Despite a prognosis that won’t see him pitch until late spring at the soonest, veteran pitcher Rich Hill says that his free agent stock has still drawn interest from multiple teams across the majors.
According to reports, Hill underwent a type of surgery called a “primary revision” to his UCL following the 2019 season. Apparently, it’s a type of maintenance procedure that addresses re-injury for players who previously had Tommy John surgery. Hill initially went under the knife for his elbow back in 2011.
“This guarantees I’ll be back,” Hill said to Bill Plunkett of the OC Register earlier this week. “Given where I’m at in my career and how much longer I’d like to play, the percentage of success is upward of 95 percent.”
Hill also told Plunkett that as many as 10 teams have expressed interest in signing him. This news was relayed to the veteran by his agency, ACES, who evidently talked to multiple executives at this year’s GM Meetings earlier this month in Scottsdale.
Before the news of his recent surgery and prognosis, the veteran lefty went on record saying that he would very much like to return to Los Angeles for what would be his 16th big league season.
“I’d love to get the opportunity to come back here and wear the Dodger uniform again,” Hill told reporters not long after the 2019 NLDS was decided. “It was really cool. It was a great honor, and hopefully something will play out and I can come back into this locker room and be part of this club. It’s just going to be a lot of fun watching these guys, good young players and a really good pitching staff coming back, too.”
The native of Boston is coming off a three-year deal worth $48 million. His 2019 installment was just a little over $18.5 million.
Multiple ailments have taken their toll on Hill over the past few seasons, but the biggest injury controversy was the recurring blisters on his throwing finger. The problem reared its ugliest head in 2017, causing him to miss a big chunk of the season. The blisters resurfaced again early in 2018, but he was still able to rebound and make 24 starts on the year.
In 2019, he made just 13 regular season starts, as a forearm strain kept him on the shelf for the majority of the year. A knee injury compounded his late-season and playoff status, but he continued to persevere, garnering a start in NLDS Game 4 but throwing just 2-2/3 innings—an affair the Dodgers eventually lost, 6-1.
Many fans questioned management’s decision to use Hill in that spot—much less his inclusion on the NLDS roster in the first place—with the availability of other capable arms like Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May and Ross Stripling waiting in the wings.
Being that he won’t be available to pitch until the middle of the 2020 season, it’s tough to guess what kinds of contracts he’ll be offered. If he does indeed latch on somewhere, he could conceivably shift back to being a reliever or a swing man.
In 2013, he made a whopping 64 appearances for the Indians. His best year out of the bullpen came one year prior in Boston, when he threw 25 times in relief, producing an impressive 1.83 ERA.