Once again, AA has surprised us all with a move that nobody saw coming. It probably doesn't change the outcome for 2012 in terms of who plays 2B, but it certainly affects the process. First of all, there were the options on Hill's contract that we all know were not going to be picked up anyway. But AA no longer has to decline the options. Cot's makes no mention of a buyout, but according to Fangraphs, there is a $1M buyout. If that is true, the Jays saved $1M. Additionally, AA does not have to be the one who declines the options, which may or may not affect Hill's mindframe when determining where he is going to play next. Secondly, there is the offer of arbitration to Johnson. I think there is no doubt that AA will offer him arbitration. If he turns it down, the Jays get a draft pick. If he accepts arbitration, the Jays have a decent 2B on a 1 year contract - a scenario that likely would not have played out on the FA market, since as a FA there is the chance that a team will offer him a 2 or 3 year deal and I don't think the Jays would have any interest in Kelly Johnson for more than 1 year.
Who ends up at 2B then next year? Will it be Johnson, Hill, Hech, Reyes or somebody else? I don't think it will be Hech. I read a recent quote from AA that he wants Hech to spend 2012 at AAA. If he does impress and make it to the Jays, I don't think it will happen until after the All Star break. As good as his fist week at Vegas has been, I think the Jays would like to see a sustained period of hitting before promoting Hech permanently, although he could make it up as a September call up. Both Johnson and Hill represent cheap, short-term options. I think it will be Johnson only if he accepts arbitration, since AA would be giving back the draft pick if he signs him at that point. Hill could be back at the right price if the Jays believe it is still possible for him to regain his ability to hit. A popular choice among the bloggers these days seems to be signing Reyes. I don't think AA is prepared to overpay for a FA yet. There does come a point when you have to. I don't think the Jays are there yet. The organization shouldn't make the same mistake they made in 2006, when they jumped into free agency before all the pieces were in place. However, that doesn't rule out signing Reyes to a contract at his fair market price. It's possible that the big spenders won't get in on Reyes. That would put a limit on the bidding and the team that wins his services might be able to do so with a 5 year offer. I would expect AA to at least explore the possibilities.
Let's discuss: 1. How many years would you commit to Reyes? 2. If the Jays don't sign Reyes (a likely scenario) would you bring back Hill, try to sign Johnson or do you see any 2B that might be available on the trade market?