We mentioned to a friend the other night that a trade must be coming. It's just been way too quiet. And here it is.
That Aaron Hill would be shipped off after another in a series of underwhelming seasons is not a great surprise. We now have nearly two years worth of evidence that he's simply not the player that he once was, and at the age of 29, he was unlikely to recover those former glories.
Oddly, we'd been sketching out a post that observed some stats through 127 games, and had included this:
Aaron Hill Is Second Best at Second
It was completely within the realm of the possible that Aaron Hill would continue to struggle this year after a sub-par 2010. What we never would have imagined is a year that was worse. Hill's OBP is around the same as last year's (.271 in '10, .270 in '11 so far), but he's dropped 81 points of slugging. His fWAR sits at -0.5, which essentially puts him into a category where any minor-league callup would be an upgrade.
Speaking of which, Hill (429 plate appearances) trails John McDonald (182 PAs) this season in OBP, SLG, isolated power, and wOBA, and WAR. And if you need more context, you can roll in the 2010 numbers, and Hill still trails Johnny Mac in all of those categories.
With both Hill and McDonald gone, we turn our attention towards Kelly Johnson, whose own disappointing year (.209/.287/.412/.699) still sees him with a wOBA (.310) better than the two players for whom he was traded. Johnson posted an .865 OPS last year with 26 homers, and has posted positive UZR/150 numbers at second over the past two seasons. In terms of what gets pencilled into the lineup each day from here through the end of the season, the Jays came out ahead.
Johnson's name had long been the focus of alleged interest by the Jays, with a notion that he would possibly be at the top of their offseason shopping list when the time came to replace the incumbent Hill. Jumping the gun on this likely means that the Jays will be able to get a better look at Johnson in the proper context in the short term, with a view towards a deal heading into next season.
Add to this the fact that all three players are free agents, but that Johnson is the most likely to net a compensatory draft pick if he leaves, and you see how this deal works now and in the future.
There's more to write about this deal, and we'll double back tomorrow to consider the two veterans who now leave the organization (at least temporarily.) In interim, here's the thought that's been running through our mind so far: There's likely to be as many tears shed over John McDonald's departure as there are over Hill's, and we're not sure that we can entirely disagree with the thought.
If we were offered one or the other back for some unknown reason, we'd likely choose McDonald, and not because of any abiding affection for his gritty scrappiness. It would be because we think he might be the better player.