Dodgers Re-Sign Rich Hill

Updated: December 5, 2016

Last week we saw the best hitter on the market re-sign with his old team as Yoenis Cespedes re-signed with the Mets. Now, we have the best pitcher on the market re-signing with his old team as Rich Hill has chosen to return to the Dodgers on a three-year $48 million dollar deal.

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Hill was one of the most interesting pieces on the market as he is 36 years old and has barely had a full season of baseball. He signed with the Boston Red Sox late in 2015 and had four very impressive starts with them, posting a 1.55 ERA/2.27 FIP. That led him to the Oakland Athletics last winter where he signed a one-year deal and had an arguably more impressive season. In fourteen starts with Oakland he had a 2.22 ERA/2.54 FIP and was one of the best starters in the American League. However, Oakland wasn’t very good and he was eventually dealt to the Dodgers at the trade deadline.

In Los Angeles it would take him awhile to make his first start as he struggled with blisters on his pitching hand. He would go on to make six starts in the regular season with a 1.83 ERA/2.07 FIP including a highly controversial perfect game bid that he was pulled from due to the aforementioned blisters. He made three playoff starts, struggling against the Nationals but throwing six shutout innings against the Cubs in a win.

The interesting thing about this trade is the Dodgers’ own expectations of him.

Basically, the Dodgers are willingly paying sixteen million dollars a year to a guy they know won’t be able to give him a full season of work. They fully expect that he’ll miss time and they are completely okay with that.

On the one hand, this could be viewed as a shift in what teams expect from free agent pitchers. That quality is possibly more valuable than quantity. For some teams this could be the new way of doing business.

Of course, the Dodgers aren’t just “some team” and they are perhaps quite unique in this situation. They are one of the richest teams out there and they have a front office that is far more concerned with maximizing the value of their 40-man roster than worrying about 1-25 on the active roster. We saw this last year as they added guys with injury histories like Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy that couldn’t possibly be reasonably expected to complete a full season without a trip to the disabled list. The Dodgers simply don’t care and they have 7-10 guys who can fill those starter innings if needed.

Not to turn this into a soliloquy on large market teams unfair advantages, but this is exactly a kind of thing that a smaller market team like the Brewers or Reds could never hope to accomplish. We saw in the playoffs with the Indians who lost their two of their top starters and became overly reliant on their bullpen. That almost worked out for them too, but had it happened earlier in the regular season I’m not sure they would’ve had the same luck.

All that being said, I love watching Rich Hill pitch and for him to be going back to the Dodgers where he will be handled with care means that we should get to do that more often than if he went to a team that needed to be overly reliant on him. A good fit all around.

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  1. Pingback: Dodgers bringing back Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner - Baseball Bryan

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