The White Sox announced Thursday afternoon that the club has signed lefty reliever Tim Hill to a one-year, $1.8MM contract, as first reported by Jeff Passan of ESPN (X link). A client of Paragon Sports International, Hill became a free agent when he was non-tendered by the Padres.
That ended a four-year run in San Diego. The Padres had acquired the sidewinder from the Royals just before the 2020 season, sending outfielder Franchy Cordero to Kansas City. As one would expect for a lefty pitching from a low arm angle, he worked largely as a situational bullpen option. The Padres leveraged him heavily against same-handed hitters, against whom he runs huge ground-ball tallies.
Hill posted decent results from 2020-22, combining for a 3.72 ERA over 125 2/3 innings. Things went off the rails last season. He was tagged for a personal-high 5.48 earned runs per nine over 48 appearances. That’s in part a reflection of a career-high .349 average on balls in play, but Hill’s strikeout rate has plummeted over the past two seasons.
After punching out nearly a quarter of opponents early in his career, he has fanned just under 13% of batters faced in each of the last two years. That combined with a spike in hard contact last season for the worst results of his career. San Diego let him go in lieu of a $2.4MM salary projection for his final year of arbitration.
It didn’t turn out too much worse for Hill in the end, as his salary with the White Sox is only $600K below the arbitration forecast. With over five years of major league service, the 33-year-old (34 in February) can no longer be sent to the minors. He’ll open the year in Pedro Grifol’s bullpen.
Hill offers a different look from hard-throwing Garrett Crochet, who projects as Chicago’s top southpaw. Despite fastball velocity that sits around 90 MPH, Hill has kept left-handed batters to a modest .228/.313/.328 slash over the past four seasons. Lefty batters have put the ball on the ground on nearly 65% of their batted balls over that stretch. Righties have predictably given him far more trouble, running a .298/.361/.475 batting line during Hill’s time in San Diego.
Chicago already has a full 40-man roster. Once they finalize their contract with Hill and a $4MM deal for catcher Martín Maldonado, they’ll need to create a pair of vacancies. The low-cost signings bring their 2024 payroll projection to roughly $149MM, as calculated by Roster Resource.
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.