Just got off the phone with GM Jack Zduriencik,who told me the reason he traded for Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Bill Hall because of his versatility, the power he brings and — of course — the price.
The Brewers are picking up most of the remaining $10.3 million on Hall’s four-year deal, which runs through next season. Zduriencik wouldn’t tell me how much money the Mariners will have to pay, but I’ve been told the Brewers portion is well over 50 percent, in fact, up around three-quarters.
“He brings you versatility, he brings you power,” Zduriencik said. “This is a guy who’s hit 35 home runs in the big leagues (in 2006). He’s been a starting center fielder, a starting shortstop.”
And of course, an excellent third baseman. one of the better ones in baseball from a defensive perspective. Adrian Beltre’s replacement in 2010 perhaps?
“I didn’t promise him anything,” Zduriencik said. “I told him ‘Bill, we’ve got a lot of work to do here. I can tell you you’ll play, but I can’t tell you how much.’ A lot will depend on him.”
Hall is now going through the worst slump of his career. He’s hitting just .201 with a .606 on-base-plus slugging percentage.
“He had a terrible year, didn’t play well at all,” Zduriencik said.
So, what gives?
“Who knows?” Zduriencik said. “Who knows why players go through these things. But look, he’s 29. He still has good years in front of him. Next year’s his ‘walk year’ in his contract. We feel that this, and the fact he’s got a change of scenery and new surroundings, not to mention a coaching staff that’s helped guys turn things around before, this all bodes very well for him.”
Hall wasn’t great last year either, hitting .225 with a .689 OPS. But the price was right, as I said. The Brewers would have had to lose him for next to nothing on Friday if they didn’t make a deal. So, while there were multiple teams interested in Hall, the fact they got a live body out of Seattle and a fraction — maybe a quarter — of what they would have had to pay out in Hall’s wages come Friday, this was the best they could do.
And for Zduriencik, it was his change to get his hands on a player who — just a few years ago — was viewed as an elite third baseman, at a time when Seattle’s own elite guy at third is about to hit the road as a free-agent.
It’s clear from talking to Zduriencik that while Hall can play the outfield in a pinch, it’s as a third baseman that he’ll be playing for the M’s primarily.
“He’s a good second baseman, an adequate shortstop and a great third baseman,” Zduriencik said.
So, if I had to guess, I’d say Josh Wilson will be dumped tomorrow to make room on the major league roster. Jack Hannahan will move to shortstop — hey, they wanted him to get more comfortable at that position — and then, when Jack Wilson returns, Hannahan becomes the backup infielder.