Hillenbrand to be dealt to Blue Jays

Updated: January 11, 2005, 9:28 PM ET
Associated Press

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Diamondbacks agreed with left-hander Shawn Estes on a $2.5 million, one-year contract and were close to trading Shea Hillenbrand to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Shea Hillenbrand

Shawn Estes

Both deals were expected to be announced Wednesday, according to a baseball official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Estes turned down a significantly more lucrative, two-year offer from the Washington Nationals and a one-year deal with an option from the San Diego Padres, largely because he wanted to play close to his home in the upscale Phoenix suburb of Paradise Valley.

Estes and his wife, Heather, have two sons, ages 15 months and 3 months.

Estes, who turns 32 in February, was 15-8 with a 5.84 ERA for the Colorado Rockies last season. He becomes the third newcomer to the rotation for a vastly revamped Diamondbacks team after Arizona lost 111 games last year.

The rotation, as it stands now, includes Russ Ortiz, signed as a free agent, and Javier Vazquez, acquired from the New York Yankees in the Randy Johnson deal. The other starter, either third or fourth in the rotation, is holdover Brandon Webb. All but Estes are right-handers.

Hillenbrand is to be traded to Toronto for right-hander Adam Peterson, who struggled in his brief major league stint last season but has a fastball in the mid-90s range. Peterson had a 2.54 ERA and 15 saves with Double-A New Hampshire.

Hillenbrand hit a team-best .309 for Arizona last season with 15 home runs and 80 RBI, but after earning $2.6 million last year he is eligible for arbitration, so the trade will be a money-saver for the Diamondbacks, who want a payroll of about $65 million next season.

Chad Tracy, who played third base as a rookie last season, is a leading candidate to take Hillenbrand's place at first.

The Diamondbacks also are talking to the Oakland Athletics about acquiring Eric Byrnes to play center field. Byrnes hit .283 with 20 homers and 73 RBI for the A's last season.

Center field is the last spot open after the team's overhaul. Arizona has Luis Gonzalez in left and newly acquired Shawn Green in right.

The infield, other than first base, is made up free-agent acquisitions Troy Glaus at third base, Royce Clayton at shortstop and Craig Counsell at second.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press