Pirates, Rich Hill on one-year deal

The Pirates and the lefty rich hill agree to a one-year, $8MM deal, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN. The deal is pending a physical exam.

Hill, 43 in March, has one of baseball’s most unique histories. He had some success as a starter early in his career, which he began with the Cubs. In 2007, he made 32 starts for the Cubbies, pitching 195 innings with a 3.92 ERA. However, injuries and poor performance led to a long period of struggle for Hill. He didn’t reach 60 innings pitched in MLB in any season from 2008 to 2015, often struggling with his health or control or both as he skipped to Baltimore, Boston, Cleveland, the Angels and Yankees.

Hill’s problems were so pronounced that he ended up pitching for the Long Island Ducks for a stint in 2015, but he showed enough promise there to earn a minor league contract with the Red Sox. He was promoted at the end of the season and made four starts with a 1.55 ERA. That was enough for the A’s to bet on him, as they signed him to a $6 million contract for his age-36 season. Hill cemented his unlikely comeback late in his career by posting a 2.12 ERA in 2016 in 20 starts and has generally continued to post strong results every year since.

Hill is hardly a workhorse, having not hit 160 innings in any season outside of the 2007 season with the Cubs. What he has been able to provide in recent years is solid innings overall. From 2016 to the present, he’s made at least 20 starts and recorded at least 110 innings in five of six full seasons, the only exception being 2019 when a forearm strain limited him to just 13 starts and 58 2/3 innings. In that time, he has a 3.39 ERA, 25.8% strikeout rate, 8% walk rate and 39.7% ground ball rate, spending time with the A’s, Dodgers, Twins, Rays , the Mets and the Red Sox.

The lefty hasn’t been as successful in the past three seasons, especially in the strikeout department. While he did hit 29% of the hitters he faced between 2016 and 2019, it’s been just 21.6% since. That also boosted his ERA, as he hit 4.27 with Boston in 2022, with a 20.7% strikeout rate, 7% walk rate and 40.2% ground ball rate this year. Nonetheless, he’s still found ways to be effective, as his strong hit rate was in the 79th percentile this year and his average exit velocity was in the 56th.

Entering his 43-year-old campaign, Hill still drew a lot of interest on the open market this offseason. The Orioles, Angels, Rangers and Red Sox all showed some interest, but it’s the Pirates who have secured his services for 2023. Hill is the second addition to the rotation the club has made this offseason, as they also added Vince Velasquez A few weeks ago. Those two should fit together Mitch Keller, J.T. Brubaker Y Roansy Contreras in the club’s rotation, crashing brise wilson to a long relief role in the bullpen. the club will have John Oviedo, Luis Ortiz and a few other arms available as depth for unavoidable injuries or future trades. For those clubs that missed out on Hill, the market for free agent starting pitchers is now headlined by players like nathan eovaldi, corey kluber, miguel wacha Y johnny cueto.

The Bucs have been firmly in rebuilding mode for a few years coming off a 100-loss season, but they’ve been pretty active in bringing in veterans for 2023. They acquired Ji Man Choi in a trade with the Rays and have also signed Carlos Santana, austin hedges Y jarlin garcia, as well as adding Velasquez and Hill to the rotation. All of those players are lined up to be near-term additions, as each of them is slated for free agency after 2023. While those players could make the club more competent next season, they’re also lined up to be candidates. trades about half a year from now unless the Pirates suddenly take a big step forward in their rebuilding process. Regardless, they should all be able to impart some wisdom to the younger players of their years in the game, with Hill being most qualified to contribute in that capacity. the retirement of albert pujols leaves him as the oldest player in the majors.

Financially, this firm brings Pittsburgh’s payroll to $89MM, according to the calculations of list resource. That actually brings the club within pitching distance of its franchise record, which was just under $100 million in 2016, according to figures from Cot’s baseball contracts. There is no real long-term investment to speak of, as Ke’Bryan Hayes He remains the only player on contract through 2024, but this winter’s crop of one-year deals represent the most aggressive additions to the team in some years.

Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.

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