It was around this time three years ago that general manager J.P. Ricciardi and the Toronto Blue Jays locked up second baseman Aaron Hill to a multi-year contract extension. The contract was first reported as a typical four year deal worth $12 million for the former college roommate of Giants closer Brian Wilson.
But we soon learned that there were some complicated club options attached to the contract after the 2011 season. If the Jays so desired, they had the option of picking up three additional years after the 2011 season for $26 million, but they would have to decide before the 2011 season started.
Guess what. As evidenced by the baseball on display this afternoon, the 2011 season has started and according to Richard Griffin, the Blue Jays have not exercised their options with Hill.
Hill seemed surprised when asked about cub options 12-14 and unconcerned that club has not approached him. Means 2014 $12M will be torn up.
The 2014 option is actually for $10 million, but the rest of what Griffin says is true. By not approaching Hill to pick up all three years, the Blue Jays will now have to decide at the end of the season if they want to pick up the second baseman’s 2012 and 2013 seasons for a total of $16 million.
The move, or lack thereof, was pretty much expected considering Hill’s horrible struggles at the plate last season. Hill will make $5 million this season, and in order to be worth $8 million annually over the next two years he’d have to be expected to double his production from 2010 in 2012 and 2013.
Among qualified second basemen, only Ryan Theriot had a worse wOBA and wRC+. Theriot and Chone Figgins were also the only two with a worse OPS. But if you go back to 2009, only Ben Zobrist, Chase Utley and Robinson Cano had a better OPS.
Finding out which version of Hill shows up in 2011 will go a long way toward making the Jays impending decision easier, but if it’s merely an amalgamation of 2009 and 2010′s Aaron Hill, it’s likely not good enough to justify paying the fan favourite $16 million over two years.
Of course, now that Brett Lawrie has been moved to third base, there isn’t really a second baseman in the Blue Jays system that could be expected to replace Hill in 2012. And even if Adeiny Hechavarria has a great 2011, it would be difficult to understand the Blue Jays willingness to bring him along too quickly or move him from shortstop to second base. The 2012 free agent class at second base is even less inspiring.
What all this means is that the only person pulling more for Hill to return to his 2009 glory is Alex Anthopoulos so that he can justify picking up the two year commitment that sits at his discretion.