Aaron Hill signed a three-year, $35MM extension today, establishing him as the Diamondbacks' second baseman through 2016. Hill, GM Kevin Towers and CEO Derrick Hall were all made available on a conference call to media this afternoon.
Derrick Hall spoke first, saying he is very proud of Aaron, KT and the staff for getting this deal done. Aaron is a tremendous part of this team, both on the field and off. He's a first-class member of the community, as evidenced by the fact that after it was established he would be here long-term, Aaron immediately asked what he could do to get more involved in the community. That led to "Aaron Hill Field", the 33rd APS Diamonds Back little league baseball field, in Parker, Arizona. Hill is very excited about that, and hopes the groundbreaking on March 25th won't be the only time he visits it. (And he hinted John MacDonald might be a little bit jealous, because he's been lobbying for a field too!)
Kevin Towers then spoke, describing what an impact Aaron made immediately upon coming to the Diamondbacks late in 2011; we wouldn't have won the NL West that year without him. We were then able to see what he could do over a full season this past year, which was "remarkable." He's the guy you want up with the game on the line: he gets the big hits and makes the big plays defensively. He's one of the premier second baseman in all of baseball, and the Diamondbacks a better club today and in the future having Aaron Hill here. Towers added that talent is important but character is just as important to wearing the Diamondbacks uniform, and he's looking forward to the next four years.
Aaron Hill then expressed his appreciation for all the kind words. He just loves playing baseball, and he loves playing it out here. He and his family are very happy here and they're excited to be here another four years. It was a "very easy decision" to sign here long-term. He's just excited to get to the season: "Let's get it going!"
Jack Magruder from FSAZ asked if there was any temptation to test the free agent market last year, and Aaron stated quite simply: "Not for me." For a lot of guys, that's part of the game, but Aaron is in a great place, he's comfortable here, it's a place he's in love with, so it was an easy decision to sign a deal keeping him here.
Aaron sees the Diamondbacks are known as being hard-nosed ballplayers, and it's the players' job to help keep that reputation. He feels team chemistry goes very far on a team, and it's already fun to see the excitement for the upcoming season on the faces of the players here.
Towers was asked by Nick Piecoro about Aaron's style of play, and he is absolutely the type of ballplayer you look for. He's a leader by example, by preparation - he was one of the first guys here this off-season - and by the way he plays the game. Aaron is a team player who does all those little things, who has all the intangibles you look for in a winning ballplayer. KT has followed Aaron since his days at LSU, especially being a first-round drafter hitter, and he knew Aaron had the skill set since day one. They're not trying to clone players, but, "Would I take 25 of him? Absolutely," Towers said.
Aaron was asked what took his play to a new level when he joined the Diamondbacks, to which he replied "I wish I had an answer for it." He always believed he would pick himself back up, and maybe the old saying of a change of scenery really did help. "Coming into a first-place team, that's why you play, everybody wants to be in the race. Maybe there was a new-found excitement. I came into a playoff atmosphere from day one, and I immediately felt at home."
And now Arizona will be his home for four more years.