The Boston Red Sox made what is almost certainly not their final move of the month, bolstering their infield depth by acquiring Aaron Hill and cash from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for a pair of prospects: 2B Wendell Rijo and RHP Aaron Wilkerson.
Hill will likely slide into a platoon role in Boston, where starting third baseman and very good first name haver Travis Shaw is languishing with a .211/.240/.380 batting line against southpaws this season. Hill is experiencing a bit of a renaissance season this year, hitting .283/.359/.421 after a couple of years of sub-replacement level play to end the Diamondbacks portion of his career. He'll also be able to spell soon-to-be 33-year-old Dustin Pedroia at second base, and represents a significant as a bench bat for the Red Sox. Hill is a pull hitter who figures to be able to take advantage of the short porch in left field:
While Hill can certainly help the Red Sox this season, the move is still a bit of a puzzling one. The price they paid is rather steep for a player who won't start every day, and they are also giving up valuable starting pitching depth even as their rotation is in tatters. Just over a week ago, Over the Monster's Marc Normandin made a plea for Wilkerson to be inserted into the Red Sox rotation.
For the Brewers, this move represents the continuation of a rebuilding effort that began a year ago when their contention window was slammed shut with Doug Melvin's fingers in the sill. It also adds a branch to the Jean Segura trade tree, as the Brewers acquired Hill, Chase Anderson, infield prospect Isan Diaz and $6.5 million in exchange for Segura and Tyler Wagner in the offseason.
This move could also potentially signal the beginning of the Orlando Arcia era in Milwaukee. Milwaukee's current shortstop, Jonathan Villar, has played very well, but he's always been destined to lose his job to a phenom prospect for the second time in as many years. Plus, he has experience playing at third base, where the Brewers could move him to make room for Arcia.
However, the young prospect has been having a bit of a rough go of it at the plate at Triple-A Colorado Springs, where he owns a .316 OPB in the extremely hitter-friendly confines of Security Service Field. The Brewers also recently recalled erstwhile Red Sox prospect Will Middlebrooks to the major league squad, so they may just slot him into the everyday lineup for a time to see if there's anything left to salvage there.
The headliner in the return for the Brewers is Rijo, ranked as the No. 8 prospect in the Red Sox' loaded system by Minor League Ball's John Sickels. Rijo struggled after being promoted to Double-A Portland in June, hitting .186/.245/.266 in 194 plate appearances before being demoted back down to High-A Salem. At just 20 years old, however, he was playing against much older and more experienced competition. Our Joe Vasile, who works broadcasts for Salem, had this to say about Rijo:
Rijo was pretty much entirely blocked in the Red Sox organization behind Yoan Moncada in the minors and obviously Dustin Pedroia at the MLB level. That they were willing to part with him makes a lot of sense. He has some power, but it comes with a big leg kick that can mess with his timing some. In the little bit that I've gotten to see him he has a good eye and approach, especially for a 20-year-old. He struggled a lot at Double-A this year, but he took his demotion in stride and came back to Salem determined to work on getting back to that level. Being more consistent is the name of the game for him. When his timing is right offensively with his leg kick he can be dangerous, but when he gets into a funk it can spiral on him. He has good speed, and his defense, while nothing to write home about, is solid. If all goes right — and that's a BIG if — in my mind he's a fringe-regular/solid bench piece at the MLB level.
Wilkerson is a 27-year-old righty who has yet to make his major-league debut, which is not typically a highly-sought commodity. However, Milwaukee has a very recent history of finding value in aging rookie pitchers, and perhaps they're hoping that lightning will strike twice.
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Travis Sarandos is a contributor at Beyond the Box Score, a staff writer at BP Milwaukee and a very nice person. You can follow him on Twitter at @travis_mke.