This season, the Toronto Blue Jays have made a number of moves to help improve their team down the road. They’ve added Colby Rasmus and Brett Lawrie through trades in the last 10 months or so. This trade also seems to be aimed at improving beyond this year, though in a slightly different way. Kelly Johnson, a second basemen, has never quite lived up to the hype since his debut with Atlanta in 2oo5. He missed the 2006 season so in his 6 year career he’s proved pretty durable and posted a .260 batting average and 89 homers. He’s struck out about twice as many times as he’s walked. Basically, he’s a serviceable major leaguer but nothing to write home about. I think the reason that Toronto made this move is because Johnson is a free agent after the season ends. That means, if Johnson walks, the Jays could get draft pick compensation, something we know GM Alex Anthopoulos values very highly.
The real winners of this deal right now are the Dbacks. Johnson was hitting only .209 this year so he’s not a huge loss in the lineup and John McDonald is one of the best utility men in the league. Also, Aaron Hill has the potential to be one of the top hitting middle infielders in baseball. He hit 26 homers last year and 36 homers with 108 RBI the year before, good for 12th in the MVP race. Though he’s hit only 6 out this season and has struggled with his average the last two years, the change to the NL could really help him. It’s certainly easier than playing 19 games against the Rays, Red Sox and Yankees every season.
Arizona is trying to make hold off the defending champion Giants and I think this deal will help them do it. At the same time, Toronto is going nowhere this season and McDonald is a 36 year old utility guy and Hill is batting .225 this year with no trace of the power of the past two seasons. I think this is a minor trade that wont change the MLB landscape any but is definitely in the best interests of both clubs.
As a side note, we at Off The Bench would like to thank our loyal readers for sticking with us despite the low volume of posts recently. Both Sean and I are moving back in to school of the next few days so we haven’t had much time to work on the blog between packing and otherwise getting ready. We’ll be back at it full tilt as soon as possible.