1:48pm: Hill gets a $2MM signing bonus and will earn $12MM in 2017, $16MM in 2018 and $18MM in 2019, according to the Associated Press.
12:02pm: The Dodgers announced today that they’ve officially re-signed left-hander Rich Hill to a new three-year contract. Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reported over the weekend that the two sides were closing in on a deal. Yahoo’s Tim Brown reports that Hill, an ACES client, will receive a $48MM guarantee over the life of the deal (Twitter link).
Hill, 37 next Spring, has had one of the most remarkable late-career renaissances in history, as he’s still just 18 months removed from pitching with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League. Hill parlayed a September roll of the dice by the Red Sox in 2015 into a one-year, $6MM deal with the A’s last offseason. For Hill, even last year’s $6MM represented a life-changing number, as he’d never earned more than $1MM in a single MLB season. Prior to this deal, Hill had earned just over $9MM in parts of 12 big league seasons, per Baseball Reference.
Despite a groin strain and a blister issue that limited him to 110 1/3 regular season innings in 2016, he proved to be a steal for Oakland, who traded him to the Dodgers alongside Josh Reddick for three well-regarded young arms (Jharel Cotton, Grant Holmes and Frankie Montas) just before the non-waiver trade deadline.
Over his past 152 1/3 Major League innings (including the postseason), Hill owns a ludicrous 2.13 ERA. He’s racked up 184 strikeouts against just 44 walks in that time while also keeping the ball on the ground at a roughly league-average rate. While the durability concerns that accompany him are very real — Hill has made more than 20 starts just once in his career, back in 2007 — Hill was the only arm on the free-agent market that had the potential to pitch at the top of a Major League rotation. The Dodgers, in need of quality innings behind ace Clayton Kershaw (who missed two months with a back injury in 2016), can afford better than any club to take this level of risk on Hill.
With this re-signing, Hill will join Kershaw, Kenta Maeda and Julio Urias in the team’s Major League rotation next season, and the Dodgers are teeming with options beyond that quartet. Los Angeles has three injury-prone options that have proven to be quality arms when healthy in Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-jin Ryu, but reports have indicated that the Dodgers are shopping Kazmir and McCarthy. Other options for the fifth spot include Alex Wood, Jose De Leon, Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, giving president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, GM Farhan Zaidi and the rest of the L.A. front office plenty of flexibility as they explore various trade scenarios this winter.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.