After a few seasons of declining production in Arizona, Aaron Hill's contract was dumped on the Brewers in a trade that also sent shortstop prospect Isan Diaz to Milwaukee. Much to everyone's surprise, the increase in playing time seemed to act as a Fountain of Youth for the veteran infielder, as Hill bounced back to put together a productive season. In just 78 games with Milwaukee, the 34-year-old matched his hit total from the previous season (72) and hit two more home runs than in 2015, helping his slash line climb back to a solid .283/.359/.421 mark. This success punched him a ticket to Boston, as the Brewers used him to bring a few prospects into their rebuilding organization. His production tapered off with the Red Sox, as a limited role suppressed his batting average to .218. A free agent this offseason, Hill is unlikely to be handed a regular role, and he would be fortunate to even land a guaranteed platoon job on a big league roster.
Hill got a rare start in left field Monday, going 0-for-3 in a spring training win over the White Sox. The non-roster invitee is fighting for a backup role on the 25-man roster. Monday's start in left field (his first appearance since his college days) adds to Hill's flexibility and increases his odds at making the cut. The 35-year-old's primary value as a backup would be his ability to play three infield spots, but being able to spell expected left field starter Jarrett Parker against southpaws makes him a good fit for the team.
Hill started at shortstop and went 1-for-3 with a double, an RBI and a run scored in Monday's spring training win over the Indians. The soon-to-be 35-year-old is swinging a hot bat in early Cactus League action (.333/.375/.400 in 16 plate appearances). He was brought in on a minor league contract, but he could play his way onto the major league roster as a utility infielder. Kelby Tomlinson and Jimmy Rollins are the top candidates to win the final utility infield role out of camp, but Hill has definitely thrown his hat into the race.
Hill agreed to a minor league deal with the Giants, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. The deal likely includes an invite to spring training, with San Francisco throwing a dart on Hill's defensive versatility and sometimes useful bat. Over recent years, the power and speed Hill displayed in several great seasons have eroded. Turning 35 before the start of this season, his biggest utility most likely would come as a playing time compiler if he can land a sustained opportunity. Even with his decline, he could carry value as a rental in deep mixed leagues.
Hill is out of the lineup for Friday's matchup against Kansas City, Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald reports. Hill has played in three of Boston's last four outings, but will give way to Travis Shaw at third base Friday. Shaw will hit eighth as the Red Sox face Ian Kennedy and the Royals.
Hill is out of the lineup Tuesday against the Rays, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reports. Hill has been seeing occasional time at third base, but will sit out Tuesday as Travis Shaw gets the nod to start at the hot corner. Hill's performance at the plate has left much to be desired lately, as he's gone just 5-for-28 (.179) over the last 14 games.