Sept. 14: Bradford has issued a correction, tweeting that Hill’s waiver period does not expire until today. Hill has not yet formally gone unclaimed.
Sept. 13: Padres southpaw Rich Hill went unclaimed on waivers, reports Rob Bradford of WEEI (Twitter link). San Diego doesn’t have to outright him to a minor league affiliate. In all likelihood, he’ll remain on the Friars’ roster for the final couple weeks of the season.
The Padres put the veteran southpaw on waivers earlier this week. With their playoff hopes dashed, they tried to offload the roughly $817K remaining on his $8MM contract. No other team bit, leaving San Diego on the hook for that sum.
It’s not an especially surprising development. Players acquired after August 31 are ineligible to participate in the postseason. Hill is an impending free agent, so he’d only be available to another team for the final two and a half weeks of the regular season. Even with clubs permitted to carry 14 pitchers on the roster in September, there wasn’t enough upside to absorb Hill’s above-minimum salary for just a few weeks.
The 43-year-old also simply hasn’t pitched well of late. He has been tagged for a 9.25 ERA over 24 1/3 innings since the deadline trade that sent him from the Pirates to San Diego. That includes two innings of two-run ball last night against the Dodgers. (Teams are permitted to continue using a player who is on waivers pending resolution of the claim.) He has allowed multiple runs in all but one of his eight outings as a Padre and has only gone beyond four innings once.
While there’s no sugarcoating his performance over the past six weeks, Hill was a reasonably effective back-end option for Pittsburgh. He worked to a 4.76 ERA through 22 starts for the Bucs, striking out 19.6% of batters faced against an 8.9% walk rate. Those are below-average marks but serviceable for a fifth/sixth starter, enough to pique San Diego’s interest at the deadline.
Overall, Hill sports a 5.53 ERA across 143 1/3 innings in what is his 19th year logging MLB action. He can work in a multi-inning relief capacity or make another start or two as San Diego plays out the string. He’ll have to take a cut relative to this year’s salary if he wants to continue playing, but he’d surely at least find minor league interest if he’s interested in prolonging his career.