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.
When he’s not throwing baseballs, Twins pitcher Trevor May is an active gamer. He streams on Twitch, a very popular video game streaming site, fairly regularly and now he’s officially on an eSports team. Luminosity Gaming announced the organization added May last Friday. It appears he’ll be streaming and commentating on Overwatch, a multiplayer first-person shooter made by Blizzard Entertainment.
May is the only current athlete to be an active member of an eSports team. Former NBA player Rick Fox owns Echo Fox, an eSports team that sports players in games including League of Legends, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Street Fighter V, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Mortal Kombat X. Jazz forward Gordon Hayward is also a known advocate of eSports.
The NBA in particular has been very active on the eSports front. Kings co-owners Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov launched NRG eSports in November 2015. Shortly thereafter, Grizzlies co-owner Stephen Kaplan invested in the Immortals eSports team. Almost a year later, the 76ers acquired controlling stakes in Team Dignitas and Team Apex. The same month, the Wizards’ and Warriors’ owners launched a group called Axiomatic, which purchased a controlling stake in Team Liquid, a long-time Starcraft: Brood War website which has since branched out into other games. And also in September 2016, Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko bought team Renegades, moving them to a group house in Detroit. In December 2016, the Bucks submitted a deal to Riot Games in order to purchase Cloud9’s Challenger league spot for $2.5 million. The Rockets that month hired someone specifically for eSports development, focusing on strategy and investment. Last month, the Heat acquired a controlling stake in team Misfits.
Once an afterthought, eSports has grown considerably in recent years and now it should be considered a competitor to traditional sports. League of Legends, in particular, is quite popular, reaching nearly 15 million concurrent viewers at its peak in the most recent League of Legends World Championship. That championship featured a prize purse of $6.7 million with $2 million of it being split among winner SK Telecom T1’s members.
The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.
Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.