In a reunion that makes a ton of sense for both sides, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced Monday that they’ve reached a three-year, $48 million agreement with veteran left-hander Rich Hill. The deal had been talked about for a few days and now that it’s official, it’s the very rich bow on top of a stunning comeback for Hill, who was in independent ball in 2015 and worked his way back to MLB success as a 36-year-old curveball specialist.
Hill proved to be an excellent addition to the Dodgers rotation last season after being acquired from the Oakland A’s at the trade deadline. That is, when Hill was actually healthy. Blister issues limited his starts during the regular season and on one occasion cost him a chance to complete a perfect game.
Overall, Hill posted a 1.83 ERA over six regular starts for Los Angeles, and a 2.12 ERA when expanded to include his 14 starts with Oakland. He concluded his season by pitching six scoreless innings against the Chicago Cubs in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series.
Obviously, those are superb results. But are they enough to justify giving an injury prone pitcher who’ has made only 24 total starts dating back to 2010 that big a contract? That’s the question, and we believe the answer lies in the luxurious depth the Dodgers have built up.
Assuming they don’t suffer through another historic rash of injuries, there’s probably no team better suited to roll the dice on Hill because of the flexibility their depth offers. Obviously, Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda and Scott Kazmir sit atop the Dodgers rotation. It is hoped that Hill will remain firmly in that mix as well. Beyond them though Dave Roberts has Brandon McCarthy, Julio Urias, Alex Wood, Ross Stripling and perhaps even a healthy Hyun-jin Ryu to call upon.
That’s quite a luxury, and it doesn’t take into account that Los Angeles could still trade for another starter between now and April.
If Hill proves healthy and effective, that’s perfect. If a blister or another minor ailment pops up, they’ll be able to mix and match to plug the leak. If he loses it completely, well, that’s obviously a much different story. Bottomline, though, the risk tied to the money isn’t nearly as important to L.A. as the potential rewards if everything comes together.
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