Second baseman Aaron Hill and infielder John McDonald, two popular long-time Blue Jays, were escorted out the door on Tuesday in a trade to the Arizona Diamondbacks for second baseman Kelly Johnson.

"Obviously, I know from the fans this will be a tough one," general manager Alex Anthopoulos told the media Tuesday before the game against the Kansas City Royals.

He then left open the door for the return of either player.

"I have not ruled out either player being back here in 2012," Anthopoulos said.

So this might be not be a final goodbye, after all.

All three players in the deal could become free agents in the offseason. Hill, McDonald and Anthopoulos all talked about the possibility of returning to the Blue Jays, depending on how things work out and what the team needs. Neither Hill nor McDonald discouraged talk that a return to Toronto could happen, although it would obviously depend on Toronto's needs.

"This is all I've known, this has been my family," Hill said. "Like Alex said, I'm very open to coming back next year. This isn't the end."