Diamondbacks may shift longtime second baseman Aaron Hill to third base

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Aaron Hill has played exclusively second base since 2007 and has logged nearly 10,000 career innings at the position, but it sounds like the Diamondbacks are preparing to move him across the diamond.

Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic reports that the Diamondbacks want use 24-year-old Didi Gregorius and 22-year-old Chris Owings as their new double-play duo in preparation for next season and beyond.

And because Hill is 32 years old, has struggled this season, and is owed $24 million for the next two seasons they can’t simply part ways with him, so moving him to third base is the easiest solution. For his part Hill seems fine with the move, saying:

It’s just the way it is when you’re trying to see what we’re going to do next year, and if I’m a part of that–I’m hoping so–whether it’s keeping the young guys, trading whoever, that’s just the big picture and I understand that. I told them I get it.

In the past Hill has shown the type of power most teams look for at third base and since joining the Diamondbacks in mid-2011 he’s hit a combined .283 with an .800 OPS in 394 games, which would certainly look just fine at third base. However, this season he’s hit just .243 with 10 homers and a .651 OPS in 118 games and he last saw game action at third base as a rookie for the Blue Jays in 2005. Plus, the Diamondbacks have a pretty good third base prospect in 23-year-old Jake Lamb.

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Reds having Michael Lorenzen prepare as a two-way player

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For decades, a legitimate “two-way player” — a player who functions as both a pitcher and as a position player — was nothing but a fantasy. The skill sets required for both are too distinct and require too much prep work, it was thought. The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani shattered that illusion in 2018, posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances as a hitter while posting a 3.31 ERA in 51 2/3 innings as a pitcher.

Since then, several more players have been considered in two-way roles. The Rangers signed Matt Davidson earlier this month and could potentially use him as a corner infielder as well as a reliever. Also earlier this month, James Loney signed with the independent Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters, who plan to use him as both a first baseman and as a pitcher.

You can add Michael Lorenzen of the Reds to that list. MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports that the Reds will have Lorenzen prepare this spring as a two-way player. He could both start and relieve while occasionally playing in the outfield. Lorenzen, in fact, took batting practice with the outfielders on Thursday. Previously, he had taken batting practice as extra work following a workout with fellow pitchers.

Lorenzen said, “It’s fantastic, the effort they’re putting in. A lot of the excuses were, ‘You know, we don’t want to overwork him.’ Well, let’s just sit down and talk about it then. They were willing to sit down and talk about it, which is one of the reasons why I love this staff so much and why I think the front office did a great job [hiring] this staff. They’re willing to find solutions for problems.”

New manager David Bell said, “We’ve put together a plan for the whole spring, knowing we can adjust it at any time. We didn’t want to go into each day not knowing what he’s going to do. We all felt better, he did, too. He was part of putting it together.”

Lorenzen, 27, pitched 81 innings last year with a 3.11 ERA and a 54/34 K/BB ratio. He’s one of baseball’s best-hitting pitchers as well. Last year, he swatted four homers and knocked in 10 runs in 34 trips to the plate. The last pitcher to hit at least four homers in a season was the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, who did it in both 2014 (four) and 2015 (five). Lorenzen also posted a 1.043 OPS. According to Baseball Reference, there have been only 11 pitchers to OPS over 1.000 (min. 30 PA). The only ones to do it in the 2000’s are Lorenzen last year, Micah Owings in 2007 (1.033) and Dontrelle Willis in 2011 (1.032).