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Shawn Hill's New Home: Toronto?

Well, at least that's what it looks like. According to the Globe and Mail's Jeff Blair, the Blue Jays are already in serious negotiations with the former Nats starter, a move that makes a lot of sense both for Hill and Toronto.

Why does it make sense for both sides? Just consider these factors:

  • Hill has never been able to maintain his health over an extended stretch, but when his elbow is right, he has really good stuff (his pitching certainly seemed better than his 3.42 ERA in 2007 at RFK, if you ask me).
  • The Blue Jays have shown a penchant for giving guys who came up through the system a real chance. Jesse Litsch is the most obvious case, and there's no reason to believe that, if Hill starts in AAA and provides solid starts, he could be suiting up in Toronto before season's end.
  • Hill is a native Canadian, so the Blue Jays are about as close to a hometown (maybe home country is more appropriate) team as he gets. Combine that with the medical comeback factor, and Hill would be a pretty inspiring story.

It also makes sense because this is exactly the kind of move that J.P. Ricciardi has to be willing to make if the Jays are ever going to get lucky and make any kind of a run at the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays in the AL East. After losing A.J. Burnett and a handful of role players in the offseason, Toronto is looking at a serious uphill climb in the AL East, and a possible rebuilding job -- again -- if things fall apart quickly. Roy Halladay has already been talked about as a trade deadline blockbuster candidate.

While the teams lineup cornerstones, Vernon Wells and Alex Rios, are locked up for big dollars and long years, it's entirely possible that Ricciardi is looking at this year as a campaign to re-build the team's starting rotation. While the Red Sox took multimillion-dollar fliers on John Smoltz and Brad Penny, Ricciardi inked the likes of Matt Clement, Mike Maroth and, gulp, former Oriole Adam Loewen.

If we are to believe Blair's account (and there's no reason not to), Toronto wants to wrap things up with Hill soon, or not at all. That means we could know sometime today whether Hill has a new home, or whether he'll continue wandering around Florida looking for work, a pitching vagabond in an economic climate that could turn him into a young, athletic candidate to write a chapter of modern baseball's "Grapes of Wrath".

Yet Hill has this quote to be optimistic about, which means we may also be seeing him throw off a mound soon, albeit in a very different uniform:

"They're still talking, but both sides would like to get something done quickly because the kid needs to start pitching again," said a source familiar with the Jays' interest

By Cameron Smith  |  March 21, 2009; 9:13 AM ET
Categories:  Blue Jays  
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Comments

Adam Loewen has been converted to an outfielder and no longer pitches.

Posted by: sbiel2 | March 21, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Toronto taking a flier on a SP who has a spotty health record but a lot of potential. Sounds like they're replacing Burnett to me.

Posted by: adampschroeder | March 21, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Re. Loewen's conversion, that would be the reason for the "gulp," I assume.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 21, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Also, go get 'em, Shawn. I'll be rooting for you.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 21, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Will Hill be signing with Toronto before or after Stan Kasten leaves the Nationals to become president of the Blue Jays?

Posted by: nunof1 | March 21, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

"so the Blue Jays are about as close to a hometown (maybe home country is more appropriate) team as he gets"

Shawn Hill is, if memory serves, from Mississauga. Mississauga is to Toronto as, say, Arlington is to DC. Which is to say, the Blue Jays ARE his home town team!

Posted by: natsagain | March 21, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I'd love to see Shawn Hill sign with the Blue Jays. Then again, I'd be happy if he signed with any team. I have my fingers crossed for him, there are a few players I really root for, on a personal level, and Shawn is one of them. I hope he gets one more chance (at least) and that he'll be able to show exactly what he can do.

Posted by: grforbes | March 21, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, this doesn't make me happy. I'm still pouting. He's supposed to be a NAT. :(

Posted by: NatsNut | March 21, 2009 11:54 PM | Report abuse

Although I will be happy for Shawn personally to see him win games for his hometown Blue Jays it will ALWAYS hurt knowing that he could have (and SHOULD have) been a key contributor to the future success of the Nats for many years to come. The classless way that he was treated by Mike Rizzo is shameful and will go down as one of the worst moves in franchise history. Good luck Shawn -- you'll always have many fans following your career closely here in DC who will forever be saddened that you weren't given the chance (after you worked SO hard to FINALLY get healthy) to be the ace of the NATS staff, as we know you have the talent for and so richly deserve.

Posted by: uscnatsfan | March 22, 2009 2:49 AM | Report abuse

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