NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Left-hander Rich Hill agreed to a three-year, $48 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, reuniting the best starting pitcher on the free agent market with the team he starred for down the stretch last season.
The 36-year-old Hill, who barely a year ago was whiling away in the independent Atlantic League, resurrected his career with four September 2015 starts for Boston, was just as good for 14 starts with Oakland in 2016 and excelled after his trade to the Dodgers.
While Hill’s early preference was to play on an East Coast team, the pull of the Dodgers – and a rotation that includes fellow lefties Clayton Kershaw and Julio Urias – proved strong. Los Angeles is in an enviable position, not just with its superior financial resources but one of the deepest farm systems in baseball and a young core that includes Urias and Corey Seager, the third-place National League MVP finisher as a rookie.
The biggest question surrounding Hill is his durability. The 110⅓ innings he threw last year were his highest total since 2007 and just the second time in his career he reached triple digits. After a half-decade bouncing around in relief roles, Hill settled back in as a starter with far better command of his fastball and arguably the game’s best curveball.
Los Angeles struggled with injuries to its pitching staff last season, shuttling in players constantly from Triple-A to fill in gaps left by Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Alex Wood and even Kershaw. The Dodgers still could seek another starter, and with the free agency of Kenley Jansen, they could find themselves in the trade market for a closer, with Kansas City’s Wade Davis a possibility.
With the new deal, Hill will quintuple his career earnings. He certainly earned it with the numbers he put up around multiple missed starts from blister issues: a 2.12 ERA, a 129-to-33 strikeout-to-walk ratio and just four home runs allowed.