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Jays Lock Up Rios and Hill

As reported by our Sox visitor RedSoxMedford (and commented on by some of ours), the Jays locked up two of their best young players today, signing Alex Rios and Aaron Hill to long-term deals.

Rios, who has two remaining arbitration seasons, will get $64 U.S. for 6 years, through the 2014 season. According to the Globe & Mail , the deal also includes a $13.5 million option for 2015, but it doesn't say whose. The Blue Jays official site doesn't mention the option. Rios' deal will start in 2009.

Hill, who has 3 arbitration seasons remaining after this year and is due to make near the minimum this season, will get $12 million over 4 years, but his deal starts now and so takes him right to free agency. After that it gets a little bizzare. After the 2010 season (Hill's free agency season), the Blue Jays must extend him by opening day 2011 for three seasons at a total of $26 million, or after the 2011 campaign for one season at $8 million or two at $16 million.

I may go more into the economics of these deals later (though the finance of baseball is not really one of my interests), but I will say now that I support both of these deals. They lock up two good young players for their prime seasons at a reasonable cost. I think Rios is a good bet to age well anyway because of his body type, but second-basemen are a bit of a mixed bag in terms of aging curve. Even if Rios and Hill never reach the next level, the Jays are getting good value, and if they do continue to improve, as it appears they will, the Jays will be getting quite a bargain for those free-agent seasons. I think it was smart of the Jays to lock these two up now and not get a repeat of the Wells situation where the Jays had to pony up huge dollars for seasons that are practically guaranteed to be past Wells' prime.