A strong six-week audition landed Aaron Hill a two-year, $10 million contract with the Diamondbacks, the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro reports.
Hill, a pretty abysmal regular in his final year and two-thirds with the Blue Jays, hit .315/.386/.492 in 33 games after coming over from Toronto with John McDonald for Kelly Johnson in August. The second baseman, who turns 30 in March, carried the hot streak into October, going 5-for-18 with a homer and five walks in the NLDS loss to the Brewers.
Hill had a career year in 2009, when he hit .286/.330/.499 with a whopping 36 homers and 108 RBI. However, he fell off to .205/.271/.394 in 2010 and continued to struggle for 4 1/2 months this year. Prior to his run with Arizona, Hill hit .225/.270/.313 in 396 at-bats with the Jays.
The $10 million bet seems a reasonable one for the Diamondbacks. Hill remains a bit above average defensively at second base, and it’s entirely possible that he’ll reemerge as a 25-homer guy next year. It probably won’t come with a very good OBP, so he’s better cast as a No. 6 or 7 hitter than the No. 2 man he’s often been in the past. Still, one could argue that he’s the best bet of the second basemen available, with the aforementioned Johnson serving as his top competition.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.