The Dodgers announce the signing of free agent LHP Rich Hill to a three-year contract.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) December 5, 2016
The deal is for $48 million — the same price paid to Scott Kazmir last offseason (but part of his deal was deferred).
Chad wrote about this inevitable deal on Saturday.
“Hill, of course, is the premier starting pitcher free agent on the market, which says a lot about him but also the state of the market. Hill is 36 and hasn’t topped 110.1 innings since 2007, but his late-career breakout story is well known by now and he’s definitely one of the better pitchers in baseball when he can take the mound.”
“I had hoped for two years in an ideal world, but if it ends up a three years and $40-something million, it would be impossible for me to complain about it.
Any team that signs Hill takes on a lot of risk given his age and injury history, but the upside is a #1 starter, and in a market where those cost a comical amount to acquire, it’s an alluring prospect. Importantly, of all the teams, the Dodgers are situated to be able to take that chance due to their depth with minor-league options.”
This seems like an ideal match. Hill — when healthy — has posted elite-level numbers over the last two seasons. Admittedly, it has been over the span of just 139 1/3 innings, but the Dodgers are betting on Hill being able to continue his elite production no matter how many innings he’s able to give them.
With the starting pitching market so barren, Hill was the best pitcher available. The Dodgers are familiar with him after trading for him at the non-waiver trade deadline, so there is some level of comfort for them with this deal.
I don’t suspect this takes them out of the running for guys like Chris Archer, Chris Sale or any other big-name starting pitcher who might be available, but it also makes it hurt a lot less if they don’t end up with one of those guys this offseason. This also means it’s a little more likely the Dodgers move Kazmir and/or Brandon McCarthy in the coming weeks (days? hours?). Even if they do, they still have a ton of pitching depth.
Things are happening. I’d expect the next Dodger transaction to be a trade (hi, Brian Dozier). But for now, this is a no-brainer signing for the Dodgers. You can’t get elite production from a starting pitching for $16 million without there being risk involved, and, as we’ve seen, this front office is not opposed to taking risks.