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Dbacks trade Kelly Johnson to Toronto for Aaron Hill, John McDonald

Aug 23, 2011, 3:30 PM EDT

Kelly Johnson

It’s being reported — sorry, not sure who got it first; the earthquake has rendered Twitter almost unreadable — that the Diamondbacks have traded Kelly Johnson to Toronto for Aaron Hill and John McDonald.

Johnson is a year removed from a 26-homer, .284/.370/.496 season, though he’s struggling mightily this year. There’s still power — 18 homers — but he’s been all or nothin’ in that regard. And he is neither getting on base nor, apparently, impressing Kirk Gibson all that much. Meanwhile, Hill, a former All-Star with big power of his own, is himself struggling for the second year in a row.  McDonald is basically a throw-in, but he’ll provide some middle infield depth that isn’t Willie Bloomquist.

Hill is subject to club options at $8 million, $8 million and $10 million over the next three years, respectively. Unless he shows that he’s able to hit again, and fast, however, you have to think that the Dbacks will just say forget it and decline them. Then again, they may just want him for a potential down-the-stretch power boost that a change of scenery will give him.  As for the Jays, they just seem to be tired of the guy.

  1. trbowman - Aug 23, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    Don’t like this deal for the DBacks, Johnson is very promising. McD is nothing special and Hill has had an awful year.

  2. flavadave10 - Aug 23, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    Why do teams even talk to the Jays anymore? Dear goodness, this is unfair.

    • saucepaws - Aug 23, 2011 at 4:24 PM

      Rival GMs should just ignore his calls. He’s on such a role he could probably get Montero and Cano from the Yanks for the rights to George Costanza and a year’s worth of Tyler Chicken.

      • proudlycanadian - Aug 23, 2011 at 6:20 PM

        Johnson will be a free agent after the season, so The Jays did not pick the pockets of Arizona. On the other hand, AA wants sandwich round draft picks. Does anyone know if Johnson will be a Type B free agent in the off season?

    • adcoop22 - Aug 23, 2011 at 6:11 PM

      Yeah, AA is really good at his job. That is why the Blue Jays are annual contenders.

      • proudlycanadian - Aug 23, 2011 at 6:21 PM

        This is only his second season as GM.

      • FC - Aug 24, 2011 at 8:57 AM

        I would not evaluate AA until he’s a couple of more years under his belt, and even then we’d have to wait a further three at least to see what the farm system produces under his watch.

  3. Detroit Michael - Aug 23, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    So the Blue Jays got the 2B who is performing a bit better in 2011, performed much better in 2010, and is under club control at an affordable cost longer? Is that right? Looks like another trade win for Alex A. to me.

    John McDonald seems fully priced, nothing special considering his salary.

    • proudlycanadian - Aug 23, 2011 at 4:00 PM

      McDonald will probably be back in Toronto next year. He is very good with the glove and acts as an extra coach. The last time the Jays traded him it was for a PTBNL who turned out to be John McDonald.

  4. felser - Aug 23, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    only makes any sense if they plan to play McDonald regularly at SS, where he is a huge defensive upgrade from Bloomquist.

  5. proudlycanadian - Aug 23, 2011 at 4:07 PM

    Hill has not been the same hitter since his concussion a couple of years ago. He plays second base quite well and has been a stolen base threat this season. As I do not know anything about Kelly Johnson, I can’t comment on his part of the trade, although it was obvious that AA wanted an upgrade over Hill next season. I did expect that he would trade for a second baseman.
    Are there any PTBL’s in this trade?

    • saucepaws - Aug 23, 2011 at 4:21 PM

      Hill’s breakout 2009 was after his concussion, so you’re a bit off there. He used to play 2B quite well but has fallen off a cliff this year and turns routine plays into an adventure. See ya later Hill, I can’t believe we even got anything for him.

      Johnny Mac said he wanted to get some post-season experience to bring back to the Jays. If they want him back next year, it seems they can sign him easily. Great clubhouse guy, excellent defender, superb human-being by all accounts. He’s going to be a pleasant surprise for Arizona and they’ll likely see him as more valuable than Hill.

  6. cur68 - Aug 23, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    Johnny Mac gone? Noooooooo! I LIKED that guy. Talk about hustle, grit and instincts: he had it in spades as a defensive SS. He can’t hit for sh!t though. Mind you, he hasn’t really had the playing time to prove if he can hit for sh!t, so if he gets a month straight at SS then he might surprise everyone. He’s certainly shown flashes of hitting well when given the chance. I’m not going to miss Hill and his standard strike-out, pop-out, ground-out routine. He’s had every chance the past 2 years to pull out of this funk and hasn’t. Of the 2 dudes I think Mac is the better because he’s got more D-skills and might benefit the most from playing time. He’s in his mid 30’s though, so its unlikely he’ll be a big on base guy this late in his career. Hill will do bugger-all different IMO. He’s not worth the dough to keep or to pick up his options. Alex Anthopoulos is a genius.

    As for Kelly Johnson; he’s definitely a dollar for dollar and hitting improvement over Hill. With Dwayne Murphy to sort out his hitting issues he might really come along, too. Once again: Alex Anthopoulos is a genius. All hail the mighty AA.

    • Detroit Michael - Aug 23, 2011 at 4:38 PM

      John McDonald has an OPS+ of 61 in over 2,200 plate appearances. Sure, they are spread thin since he’s played in 100+ games only twice, but that’s more than enough to conclude that he can’t hit.

      • cur68 - Aug 23, 2011 at 4:53 PM

        “more than enough to conclude that he can’t hit.” Um no, it’s not. His PA’s are so inconsistent he never gets a chance to get into a routine. How’s he supposed to establish his timing against opposition pitchers when he sees them once per game per season? His OPS is misleading and IMO and shouldn’t be held against him to the point that you can say definitively “he can’t hit”. His approach has changed in the past 3 years and his slugging has gone up because of it for 2 of the 3 (limited playing time has seen it fall back this season because Escobar is such a stud @ short) He might be productive given playing time IMO, but this is not said as a definitive statement. It’s not that I really disagree with you DM, but I think there’s room to make a positive statement about the guy. So, since I like him, I have.

  7. bigleagues - Aug 23, 2011 at 4:49 PM

    CRAIG, what happened in this sentence, man?:

    “There’s still power — 18 homers — but he’s been all or nothin’ in that regard, and he is neither getting on base not, apparently, impressing Kirk Gibson all that much.”

  8. proudlycanadian - Aug 23, 2011 at 5:01 PM

    From what I have just read, both Johnson and McDonald will be free agents next season and Hill’s contract option for next year can be voided by the team. Short term, both Hill and McDonald will probably help Arizona. As far as the Jays are concerned, they will save a bit of salary, they have given 2 of their long time players a chance to make the playoffs, they have avoided making the decision to cut Hill in the off season and they get a chance to evaluate Johnson. McDonald will resign with the Jays next year, while the second base position next year is unknown. The Jays have a young short stop named Hechavarria who has hit very well since being promoted to triple A. Next year, Toronto’s infield will likely be composed of Lind, Lawrie, Escobar and Hechavarria with McDonald as the backup..

    • cur68 - Aug 23, 2011 at 5:12 PM

      And is there a closer anywhere in the woodpile PC? One who can cope with about 75 to 80% of save chances?

      • proudlycanadian - Aug 23, 2011 at 5:36 PM

        Short term, Janssen is a possibility as is McGowan. McGowan is pitching well in his rehab stint in Double A. Two of the recent draft picks (Storen in 2011) and (Wojciechowski in 2010) are projected as potential closers.

      • missthemexpos - Aug 23, 2011 at 5:38 PM

        After watching Ward/Henke in the glory years I certainly was not expecting this many years to pass to find anything even close to come out of the pen in the late innings for the Jays. Finding a top notch closer this off season will be the piece de resistance of AA’s tenure as GM of Toronto.

      • cur68 - Aug 23, 2011 at 6:11 PM

        Agree wit U MTE. I still have Ward/Henke expectations when the Moose Knucklers have a late lead. It’s been a season of ‘what might have been’ had they had a closer. The 8 best teams in the AL close at about an 80% rate. The Jays are the worst @ ~50%. Even assuming a relatively decent closer, lets say a 75% guy, they then would be about 9 games better than they are right now. Which puts them about 74 & 53. In third still but with a real shot at over taking for the WC. With Heath Bell, lets say, then they convert same rate as the top teams. Which puts them 1 back if not even (feel free to check my math: I’m guessing). If AA can pull off a Bell-type closer then the Beaver Boys are in business.

      • saucepaws - Aug 23, 2011 at 7:07 PM

        @ proudly – I’ve read that the team does not consider McGowan an option in the bullpen because they want to keep him on consistent rest and feel he would not react well (health-wise) to being used out of the bullpen. Agree with you on the youngsters though, plus who knows what this Carreno kid has? Anyone is better than Rauch…

  9. adcoop22 - Aug 23, 2011 at 5:39 PM

    Blue Jays fans like getting rid of Hill, but lose out on a class act on McDonald. In the desert we are glad to see the K’s off of our roster, even if it means giving up a class act (already happened once before…Reynolds). Hopefully we can use these guys to actually get some base hits and move some players, no more of this HR or nothing crap.

    • proudlycanadian - Aug 23, 2011 at 6:24 PM

      They are both rentals but should help you in September.

  10. bigleagues - Aug 23, 2011 at 6:43 PM

    Johnny Mac – the pride of SouthEastern Connecticut (well, I guess you gotto throw Rajai Davis in there as well).

    Seriously though Johnny Mac played in the wrong era. If only he was playing in the 70’s and 80’s – his elite fielding would have sent him straight to Cooperstown. Ya know since SS seems to be the only position we overlook the offensive side of things.

    • proudlycanadian - Aug 23, 2011 at 7:17 PM

      When McDonald was in the high minors he once gave a quality glove to a poor amateur player named Rajai Davis.

      • cur68 - Aug 23, 2011 at 7:30 PM

        And yet another reason to like Johnny Mac. I’m hoping you’re right, PC, and that he’s back in the spring.

  11. bigleagues - Aug 23, 2011 at 8:36 PM

    That is a great little anecdote!

    Johnny Mac from East Lyme, CT (Vikings Pride!) which is 2 towns (and 8 miles) west of Rajai’s New London (Whalers Pride!) which just across the Thames River from Groton (Fitch HS) where former Tarheels ace and current Met’s phenom Matt Harvey is from.

    • FC - Aug 24, 2011 at 9:10 AM

      So that means his Bacon number is…

  12. dirtyharry1971 - Aug 23, 2011 at 11:38 PM

    they should call this the biggest “Who cares” trade in the history of MLB. I mean everyone involved SUCKS!!! So with that said, WHO CARES besides proudly and the other 5 bluegay fans out there?

    • cur68 - Aug 24, 2011 at 12:08 AM

      Ahh, ‘harry. I see YOU cared, as usual. We Blue Jay fans can always count on your unswerving douchery when we feel ignored. Thanks for playing, as always. Do say ‘hi’ to your probation officer from all us Jay’s fans. He’s doing good work keeping you on the straight and narrow, we hope. Remember: keep the locator ankle bracelet away from your head unless you’re wearing your foil hat. Wouldn’t want more damage to your poor beleaguered brain, eh? Salut!

  13. jaysfan64 - Aug 24, 2011 at 1:57 PM

    Johnson is on the border between Type A and B – Hill is on the border between Type B and nothing….Hill has to play to keep his B status while Johnson will be a Type B at worst at the seasons end…IMO if Johnson crashes and burns look for Hechevarria to play for the last month….the only question is where do you put him….????
    Another smart move by AA – this guy reminds me so much of Gillick in the way he uses creativity to acquire talent….after almost 20 years of futility good things are coming our way…..we’ll have the last laugh on all the people who’ve unfairly bashed our city and our ball club….what would be even better would be somehow playing the White Sox in the playoffs with 50,000 people at the dome getting a chance to serenade Alexis Rios…..I plan on being there…..

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