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Rich Hill Rumors
If there were any doubts about how much trade deadline acquisitions can affect the postseason, last night's Giants/Braves contest silenced them. A pair of former Royals, Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth, helped lead Atlanta to victory, while ex-Red Sox Ramon Ramirez gave up Ankiel's game-winning blast. As we prepare for another round of playoff baseball tonight, let's check out a few links….
- Casey Blake hit just .248/.320/.407 this season, but MLB.com's Sarah Morris thinks Ned Colletti has more pressing needs than finding a new third baseman.
- Meanwhile, Steve Dilbeck of The Los Angeles Times says that today's Matt Kemp-Nationals rumor won't be the last time the centerfielder's name comes up on the rumor circuit this winter.
- The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec expects the Orioles to buy out Mark Hendrickson's $1.2MM option for $200K. Hendrickson could return to the team at a lower price, according to Zrebiec.
- Carlos Matias (now known as Carlos Martinez) has received Visa approval and completed his $1.5MM deal with the Cardinals, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes (Twitter link). The Dominican right-hander agreed to terms with St. Louis in June, and has been outstanding in the Dominican Summer League (0.76 ERA, 11.9 K/9).
- The Red Sox have outrighted Rich Hill to the minors, reports Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. The lefty will become a free agent five days after the World Series.
- In his latest appearance on WEEI, Peter Gammons discussed Cliff Lee, Boston's bullpen, and how the purchase of Liverpool FC affects the Red Sox.
- As David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes, Billy Wagner's strained oblique will keep him out of the NLDS and, if the Braves advance, the NLCS. With the left-hander still planning to retire, Wagner may have made his final big league appearance last night.
The Red Sox signed Boston native Rich Hill to a minor league deal and assigned the lefty to Triple A, according to Pawtucket Red Sox radio broadcaster Dan Hoard (via Twitter). Hill, who had been pitching at Triple A Memphis for the Cardinals, could have opted out of his deal with the Cards at the end of May, but agreed to push the opt-out date back a month.
Hill has only made eight relief appearances in his five-year MLB career, but he has been coming out of the 'pen for the Memphis Redbirds this year. He has allowed just 35 hits in 46 innings and has recorded more than one strikeout per frame. As usual, Hill is walking too many hitters (5.9 BB/9). If he lowers his walk rate or the Red Sox need a lefty out of the 'pen, Hill could find himself in a major league uniform again this season.
Rich Hill has agreed to push back the opt out date in his minor league contract with the Cardinals by 30 days, reports Derrick Goold of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Hill would have been able to elect free agency if he was not added to the big league roster by Tuesday.
Goold mentions that Hill's willingness to stay could stem from his new role as a reliever. The 30-year-old lefty has spent most of his career as a starter, though his last ten outings with Triple-A Memphis have come out of the bullpen. As a reliever, Hill has posted a 3.21 ERA with a 16/9 K/BB ratio in 14 innings, and lefties are hitting just .171 off him.
Since his breakout 2007 season with the Cubs, Hill has struggled mightily with his control, walking 136 batters in 178 total innings, majors and minors.
- Kameron Loe has a clause in his contract that allows him to ask for his release if he isn't in the major leagues by June 5th, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Loe is pitching well for the Brewers' Triple A affiliate.
- Morosi also notes that Rich Hill, who is pitching at Triple A for the Cardinals, has a June 1st opt-out clause in his contract (Twitter link).
- Rocco Baldelli tells Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal that he hasn't thought about returning to the majors for a team other than the Rays. Baldelli says he would prefer the Rays to another organization.
- Omar Vizquel says he will likely retire if he doesn't finish the year well, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.
- The Rays released Eduardo Morlan and Cody Strait, according to Stacy Long of the Montgomery Advertiser. The Rays acquired Morlan in the Matt Garza-Delmon Young trade.
- Click here to listen to my appearance today with Jeff & Jeff of KFNS St. Louis.
- Yahoo's Jeff Passan tells the story of Sergio Santos, a converted shortstop who has a 0.52 ERA and 10.9 K/9 as a White Sox reliever.
- Baseball America's Jim Callis compares Manny Machado to other high school shortstops in recent draft history. Yesterday in his mock draft ESPN's Keith Law wrote that the Pirates have Machado and lefty Drew Pomeranz high on their list for the second overall pick.
- AOL FanHouse's Frankie Piliere is hearing buzz about the Reds considering Alex Wimmers with the #12 pick (Twitter link). Law had the Ohio State righty going 16th to the Cubs, picking catcher Yasmani Grandal for the Reds.
- Law ranked James Paxton 12th overall, but doesn't project the lefty as a first-round pick. Paxton, a Boras client, is now pitching independent ball after losing his NCAA eligibility. According to Matthew Sekeres of The Globe and Mail, Paxton has no ill will toward Paul Beeston and the Blue Jays.
Links for Tuesday…
- I joined Jeff & Jeff on KNFS 590 St. Louis today; click here to listen to audio.
- Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald tweets that the Red Sox signed 22-year-old Cuban outfielder Jorge Padron to a minor league deal with a $350K bonus. Cuban Ball Players has a bit on Padron here.
- SI's Jon Heyman tweets that the Royals will join the Mariners in the Jarrod Washburn bidding. Heyman first made the Royals-Washburn connection on January 11th, but nothing much came of it.
- Kevin Baxter of the L.A. Times spoke to Orlando Cabrera, Tony Reagins, and Walt Jocketty about the decline in multiyear free agent contracts.
- Rays first baseman Dan Johnson cleared waivers and accepted a Triple A assignment, tweets Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune.
- Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun feels that Orioles catcher Chad Moeller is unlikely to accept a minor league assignment now that the team has chosen Craig Tatum to back up Matt Wieters.
- Aroldis Chapman is expected to begin the season in the minors, writes MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs praises the Rockies for their player development, but questions their offseason tweaking. For more on that topic, check out our Rockies offseason in review.
- Rich Hill, recently reassigned to Triple A, can elect free agency around June if he's not in the Majors according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
MLB.com's Matthew Leach reports that St. Louis has between $6MM and $7MM worth of "wiggle room" in their payroll that may have to last the club through the rest of the season. But, as Leach notes, "the Cardinals aren't holding onto money for a midseason trade as much as they are for an acquisition during camp."
St. Louis GM John Mozeliak hinted that he may make another move during Spring Training if none of the team's young players step up to adequately fill the Cards' problem areas: "As we move forward and get into spring, we should have a better idea of what that [greatest need] might be. It may be nothing. But it usually is always something and more than something."
Matt Holliday dominated the headlines in St. Louis over the winter, but aside from that major re-signing, the Cardinals were fairly quiet in the offseason; only Brad Penny and possibly Rich Hill could be considered major additions to the club. As Leach pointed out, however, the Cards have signed two free agents over the last two springs (Kyle Lohse and Dennys Reyes) and are still looking for backup outfielders, a left-handed pinch-hitting option and possibly another reliever or two.
The Cardinals have signed free agent lefty Rich Hill, and invited him to Spring Training according to the team's official Twitter feed. The Orioles non-tendered Hill after he posted a 7.80 ERA in 13 starts (and one relief appearance) last season, and he missed the second half after having surgery on his pitching shoulder.
The soon to be 30-year-old has been plagued by extreme control issues since the breakout 2007 season that saw him post a 3.92 ERA with a 8.4 K/9 in 32 starts for the Cubs. He's walked 111 batters in 141.1 innings since then, majors and minors.
1:36pm: MASN's Roch Kubatko says Hill expects to sign today or tomorrow, and won't rule out the Orioles. Hill might have one club (not Baltimore) willing to offer a big league deal.
8:26am: Free agent lefty starter Rich Hill "is poised to accept" an offer with a team other than the Orioles, reports Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun. Hill became a free agent after being outrighted by the O's in November.
Acquired from the Cubs in February for cash considerations, Hill was a worthwhile pickup for Andy MacPhail. However, Hill fared poorly in 13 starts last year while dealing with elbow and shoulder injuries. He had labrum surgery in August. For more background on Hill, check out our November 4th discussion post.
A pair of former Oriole bats are still looking for somewhere to sign, and Baltimore has shown no interest in bringing back either Melvin Mora or Aubrey Huff, according to Dan Connolly and Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. Here are some more Baltimore-centric tidbits from their piece:
- The O's may not be interested in Mora, but we heard earlier in the week that a few other clubs are. Mora confirms that several teams have been in touch with his agent, including the Rockies, Cardinals, and Angels.
- The Orioles are still looking to add a corner infielder. Although they've had discussions with Miguel Tejada's representation, "a reunion remains unlikely."
- The club would prefer to play Garrett Atkins at first base, rather than at third. The greater number of affordable first basemen left on the market, however, may force their hand.
- A handful of teams, including Baltimore, have extended minor league contract offers to Rich Hill, but the lefty has yet to make a decision.
Rich Hill was a late bloomer for the Cubs. The lefty with the Bugs Bunny curveball always had big strikeout rates in the minors, but started to get a handle on his control in '05 at age 25. That year he whiffed 194 against 35 walks in 130.6 innings across three levels. Hill's Triple A dominance continued the following year, when he struck out 135 and walked 21 in 100 innings. He was promoted to the bigs and showed promise in 16 starts, aside from some ill-advised comments in May. 2007 was Hill's breakout season – he made 32 starts and struck out 183 in 195 innings.
The wheels fell off in 2008, as Hill struggled in Spring Training and then opened the season with 15 walks in 19.6 innings across five starts. Hill's control problems seemed to be at least partially mental, and Lou Piniella didn't have much patience. He was demoted to Triple A in May, and the control issues persisted in the minors. Hill insisted his problems stemmed from a back injury and not Steve Blass Disease.
Like he did with Felix Pie, Cubs GM Jim Hendry gave up on Hill that winter and shipped him to Baltimore. The Cubs received cash considerations for Hill. He was out of options, so he needed to land with a team that could let him take his lumps in the Majors. Hill's control issues continued in his 13 starts, and elbow and shoulder injuries cut his season short. He had labrum surgery in August, and last night became a free agent after the Orioles outrighted him. The O's have interest in re-signing him to a minor league deal, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.
If he doesn't re-sign with Baltimore, where might Hill land as he rehabs his shoulder and attempts to recapture the 2006-07 magic? San Diego is a nice low-pressure environment for pitchers. The Mariners had interest in Hill a year ago, and Seattle would be another smart landing spot. Hill was born in Boston, and Theo Epstein likes his reclamation projects, but getting out of the AL East might be a good thing. What kind of future do you see for Hill?