Wasn't it just four years ago that the Jays signed what was one of the brightest young talents in baseball, Aaron Hill, to a creative four-year contract, plus three option years that would carry him well into his free-agency eligibility? The unique concept of the deal was put together by rising young assistant GM Alex Anthopoulos. Cost certainty for the team and financial security for the player. Win-win.

At the time it was a feel-good story for a future all-star second baseman that had the ability to hit for both average and power. Four years later, it's all gone sour. The Jays already turned down the final option year last spring and are poised to make the confused 29-year-old Californian a reluctant six-year free agent at season's end. That would be $26 million in option money left on the table.

But it's not over. If the Jays, at the end of the current season, refuse Hill's two option years for 2012-13 at $8 million each, as expected, it doesn't necessarily mean the end of a solid eight-year relationship. Hill has grown up in the Jays organization, selected 13th overall in the '03 June draft.

The problem for the organization and the opening for Hill is that the Jays, with a deep and talented farm system, encounter a black hole when it comes to almost-ready-for-primetime prospects at second base — unless of course the current Triple-A and Double-A quartet of Manny Mayorson, Chris Woodward, Callix Crabbe and Jonathan Diaz are on your fantasy team.

"I haven't closed the book at all on Aaron," Anthopoulos, now the Jays' GM, said. "I know his contractual status is something we have to address in the off-season. I still believe in the player.