Today's headline is probably the saddest one I've had to write in my time here at Bluebird Banter. If you're not aware, Aaron Hill is my favourite Blue Jays player off all time and is a big reason why I'm such a big fan today. When news came along that Toronto was in Arizona scouting the Diamondbacks infielders Martin Prado and the aforementioned Hill, I obviously got pretty excited. I don't have any connection at all to Prado, but Hill coming back to Toronto would be an amazing homecoming that would the cherry on top to this great season. After looking around at the numbers on FanGraphs though, I came to a saddening realization. The Blue Jays will (and rightfully so) try to get Martin Prado before they attempt to acquire Hill. Unfortunately I didn't get to writing this before Jon Morosi said the exact same thing:
Blue Jays appear to be targeting Martin Prado over Aaron Hill, preferring his positional flexibility (starts at 3B/2B/LF/SS/1B since '12).— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 5, 2014
When you look at it objectively, there's about three points in favour of trading for Prado and the singular one in Hill's direction may be that he has already had success in Toronto and played under skipper John Gibbons from Hill's memorable debut in 2005 to Gibbons's firing in 2008.
As the tweet notes, Prado is as flexible as they came for infielders compared to the permanent second baseman in Hill. In the past season and a half, Prado has played at 3B (192 games), 2B (36 games), LF (30 games), and SS (1 game). By all reports, Prado is an adequate defender although he's better at third base and left field than second base, which might open up talk of Brett Lawrie moving back to the '4' spot if this trade were to happen.
On the business side of the comparison, Morosi once again states the obvious:
Aaron Hill ($24MM) and Martin Prado ($22MM) have substantial money due after this year, which has influenced their marketplace.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 5, 2014
Although it's not a huge difference, Prado is owed $11 million in both 2015 and 2016 as well as the remainder of his $11 million salary this season. For Hill, each of the next two seasons see him owed $12 million as well as the rest of his $11 million salary this year. For a team like the Blue Jays that is still considered by many to be almost busting through their payroll ceiling, this difference likely comes into play as well when Alex Anthopoulos decides to pick up the phone to talk to Kevin Towers and the Diamondbacks.
A third point in Prado's favour is the fact that he is only 30-years-old (he turns 31 in October), while Hill turned 32 in March. Considering that both players are locked up through 2016, the age difference will likely be a factor as well when deciding which infielder the Blue Jays want to acquire. Neither player has much of an injury history though, other than a fractured left hand for Hill last season.
In terms of actual performance on the field, the players are quite similar with equally big seasons coming in 2012 that landed them MVP votes as well as solid 2013 campaigns that amassed about 2 fWAR each (Hill did it in nearly half as many games). This year has seen both players take a step back thanks to some out of the ordinary strikeout numbers.
For comparison's sake, here's Hill:
Up against Prado:
Unfortunately for Aaron Hill fans it seems that Martin Prado is quite clearly the more attractive option for the Blue Jays and assuming that Alex Anthopoulos has his pick of the two infielders, it is the Venezuelan that he will choose. Obviously the asking price for the two players will be different, but with the general manager on the other end of the phone being Kevin Towers, it's a certainty that he will require a lot of #grit in return.