The Pirates Agree to One-Year Deal with Veteran LHP Rich Hill

According to Jeff Passan, the Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed to a deal with 43-year-old left-handed pitcher Rich Hill. The deal, which is still pending physical, is for one year at $8,000,000.

Hill has played 18 seasons in the majors, seeing time with 11 different teams. He had a 4.27 ERA, 3.92 FIP, a 1.30 WHIP and 109 strikeouts in 124.1 innings in 26 starts during the 2022 season with the Boston Red Sox.

He went 7-8, 3.86 in 32 games (31 starts) in 2021, putting up a 4.34 FIP, a 1.21 WHIP and 150 strikeouts in 158.1 innings.

In his career he has an 82-59, 3.85 record, a 3.98 FIP, a 1.23 WHIP and 1,294 strikeouts in 1,259 innings. He has made 221 starts and 129 relief appearances, though he’s been a starter for the last eight seasons.

The Pirates have said recently that they were looking to add a starting pitcher and Hill fits the bill as a solid starter to add to the rotation, which was all right-handed pitchers until now. He’s not a workhorse by any means, as those inning totals would indicate, but he’s been reliable to consistent.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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Born4rf

I’m hearing a lot of giddy talk like now that we’ve augmented a certain volume of replacement level free agent signings with a 42 year old who’s a skosh above RL we are making the team an iota better. That’s not the idea. For $28M we’ve bought excuses not to promote potentially good players until June. The long term arbitration savings for Quinn Preister alone could cover that and fans in 2029 will greatly appreciate still having All Star catcher Endy Rod thanks to 3 months of Austin Hedges. These guys were signed to be tradeable/cut-able by July. I’m okay with that if it works.

ArkyWags

You had an ok sentiment to start that you rode completely off the rails.

Anthony

Yeah, that’s exactly why they spent $28M this off-season 🙄

Mblee24

I would think Underwood and Wilson are DFA’d.

SBRO

My preference would be Ramirez and Vilade.

Mblee24

I would be fine with that but I believe Ramirez has options and I think he has more upside. We know what underwood is and I think you can get a guy like him anywhere. As far as Vilade I would be fine with it but I think they like him.

jaygray007

Bryse Wilson serves no purpose now that he has no milb options anymore

SBRO

Wilson is #4 on my personal cut list behind Ramirez, Vilade and Underwood, mostly because I’d like to see whether the new pitch/new grip makes him a serviceable pitcher. I’d hate to give up on him now and watch him turn into the next Jorge Lopez in Cleveland or Tampa. It should be apparent pretty early on whether he’s been able to make the pitch work within the rest of his middling arsenal. To me, it’s worth a spring look at least.

I’m also counting on there being one more signing – possibly NRI – to back up the middle infield, and that would force one more cut.

Mblee24

I see your point with Wilson. I don’t really want another VanMeter or Newman veteran middle infielder though. I would like to see Castro and bae then hopefully Gonzales is up late. I would hate to have another VanMeter all year. If they were gonna keep a veteran why not keep Newman?

BonDrone

Because they got a high upside bullpen arm for Newman.

Mblee24

That’s a decent point but I think they could have got a guy like Moretta without trading Newman. If they actually go get an infielder I won’t be a fan. I wanna see Bae and Castro there.

SBRO

I think they’d be aiming more for an Andrelton Simmons-level guy – veteran presence, defensive minded, you know what you’re getting. Because right now you have Cruz and probably Castro in the middle infield – both guys with major deficiencies defensively – and their backups are Marcano (not really a SS), Bae (not a SS) and Triolo (no major league experience). For at least the first few months they really should have someone back there you can count on in the late innings, or to spell one or the other in case of injury or if the league figures out how to pitch to them and they’re slow in adjusting.

And I agree why trade Newman – he IS that guy! I was not in favor of that trade – he was cheap, he’s good with the glove, and if you only need him for 200 ABs the bat won’t kill you.

Mblee24

You make some great points. You are making me reconsider, but with that being said would only want a veteran who is a decent MLB player. Not another Van Meter.

SBRO

I’m with you there, friend.

SBRO

Now 2 impending drops from the 40-man (Garcia, Hill). The 40-man is at 42 with 19 hitters and 23 pitchers. They’ll also need to clear a spot for the backup C (if Heineman), but I think they’re waiting until Valentine’s Day when they can put Kranick on the 60-day IL to open that spot. Otherwise, they’ll need to eventually DFA 3 guys instead of 2.

The candidates:

Yohan Ramirez – he’s an interesting arm and has an option, but his K% – BB% is pretty bad, and his type are pretty easy to find.

Bryse Wilson – I do wonder if his nine lives are up. The splitter/change he was throwing at the end of September might save him, but we’re running out of candidates.

Ryan Vilade – When they signed Joe, I thought for sure he was gone. Instead they DFA’d Castillo, leaving a hole at backup MI and maintaining their logjam at OF.

Duane Underwood – has no options and only 3 years of service, so his contract isn’t guaranteed. I wouldn’t assume he’s safe.

Zach Thompson – I don’t think this one is likely, but now they’re building a logjam of SPs at Indy and Altoona. Oviedo, Ortiz, Burrows, Priester, Thompson, Huang, maybe Nicolas, maybe Mlodzinski, and do they still want to give Bolton and Bido starts? Lord, that’s a lotta arms.

skliesen

Who gets jettisoned off the 40-man to accommodate Mr. Dick Mountain?

slider1971

I’m going with Vilade and Bryce Wilson assuming of course the Garcia signing goes through!
– Vilade because of the OF surplus and the Trading for Connor Joe
– Wilson because he is out of options, doesn’t profile real well in the Bullpen and is 8th or 9th on the starting pitching depth chart

RAS TN

How about that, he is now the 2nd highest salary for 2023…

adicesa14

That’s depressing.

Cape Cod Sean

Hoping for a decent year and sell at the deadline. If that happens looking at 6 million ish for 2/3rds of a good season, some leadership, and a prospect! Welcome Rich!

rrlindsey

It’s a damn disgrace. Don’t have money for Reynolds, but we do for a 43 y.o. pitcher? Are you kidding me. Cherrington must go.

SBRO

I figured they’d sign a LHSP but I didn’t figure Hill at all because Hill’s still pitching well enough that he has multiple options, including holding out until June and joining a contender. I was thinking Duffy/Miley/Minor (high risk, low ceiling or both). Setting aside the risk that this is the year it comes to an end, I think I’d rather Hill than any of the three I mentioned above.

jaygray007

Hill velasquez Brubaker roansy keller starting in mlb with… Oviedo ortiz Burrows priester Thompson as depth is just such a healthier situation than I feel like last yr was. We *should* see like 150 gamed pitched by real live mlb caliber arms

NMR

Not a lotta media whining about poor middleclass veterans these days, is there.

CTBucco

Those articles are cued up for the week or two before camps open.

Scam likely

I liked Ortiz and oviedo but they might not make the 26 man, why?

jaygray007

It’s okay to have too many

CTBucco

“Seasoning”. Years of control. Super-2. Take your pick.

NMR

They’ve literally run out of pitchers two years in a row.

SBRO

LOL they didn’t even wait for the season to start to run out of them in ’22.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

You mean, we might not have to watch Jared Eickhoff labor through 4-5 innings, even after he gave up a dozen runs and threw 1000 pitches in just the first inning, cause there’s nobody else to throw?

robertkasperski

I am always available. Just me and my fastball…er…Eefus ready to go! The opposing batters will be cork screwing trying to hit the cover oft the ball 🙂

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

They’ll never see it coming! Literally, they probably won’t, cause it’ll have so much arc to get to the plate! Lol

b mcferren

this makes me think Brubaker is on his way out and another starting pitcher (Dominican) is still within our sites…. Cueto or Pineda

Tomkatf14

Curious as to why you think that and what you’d want in return for Brubaker?

b mcferren

think that because the theme of this offseason is leadership and the one position where a leader was requested (by Roansy) was requested by a guy who does not speak english (Roansy and neither does Ortiz)

b mcferren

too many home runs against him – – – he seems to always blow the game in the 4th inning

maybe a bounce back right handed out fielder in return . . . like Jo Adell or Kyle Lewis

AdministrativeSky236

This would be interesting to me

b mcferren

if that is in fact the case, I would prefer to watch a fresh start with Velasquez than moar Brubaker

1979andCounting

So why was Santana snubbed by many, and yet Hill is being celebrated? Santana has a lot more productivity left. I’m pretty blah on this signing. Seems like an overpay but the starting pitchers market is the SP’s market.

skliesen

Chalk it up to success of LHSP’s signed by BC the last two years. Anderson and Quintana were good so Hill will be, too.

Catch_22

becuz WTM said so

Wilbur Miller

Ah, the stalker is right on it.

CTBucco

Hmmm. Hill or Miley? Hill is older, but was healthier last year and probably a little cheaper. Hill was probably also more willing to take a 1-year deal. I probably would’ve prefered Miley, but Hill is a more realistic signing. I just hope he can get through June healthy.

b mcferren

Rich Hill makes me feel like I still have a chance

bianco599

Me too. Same age. As I said before. I’d sign as a back up bullpen catcher for half of league minimum. And promise never to go on the IL. May even learn Spanish

ravidesai1984

Can you pitch left-handed?

bianco599

I can. Extremely awkwardly and at about 17 MPH. Could maybe learn to throw a knuckleball. Or Knuckle puck. Whichever is worth more.

ravidesai1984

Report for a tryout for spring training.

bianco599

Which hat should I bring? I like the 1979 one but also the gold one with black brim. Would that help my chances? I could throw underhand as well.

hoptown

When Rich Hill debuted in MLB, the Pirates were still 2 years away from being sold from Kevin McClatchy to Bob/Ogden Nutting for ~$275M.

Y2JGQ2

This is exactly the kind of player I’d be targeting if I was GM. Succesful, different looks than our other pitchers, can provide leadership. 1 year commitment that will not block any of our prospects. It hits all the marks. Yeah, I wish he could go deeper than 5 innings, but we don’t really have that anyways so I’m fine with it.

Danatural08

Here’s his highlights from last year on youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E91tF5pPWRw

Alot of batters frustrated. Looks like he tops out at 89 with the fastball, throws a bunch of junk in the 70 mph range. Needs to hit the corners with his stuff

Y2JGQ2

No he doesn’t, he lives on his curveball, doesn’t need corners, relies on missing barrels.

skliesen

The curve at 70 makes the fastball at 89 look much faster. Especially if he’s throwing the fastball less than half the time. Then add in the changing arm angle and it’s no wonder he’s lasted this long as a serviceable SP.

jon6er

copy and paste for every Pirate move
“meh, I hope we get lucky”

skliesen

Unfortunately, way too much truth in this statement. But in this case, my excitement level is at least a rung or two up from meh.

Catch_22

Exceptional analysis.

clemo83

Maybe he’ll be an AJ Burnett type and bring some mentoring and culture change. Although I don’t expect him to perform at level AJ did. I like it, we spent some money and at the least he could be a deadline trade chip.

phieralph

Good veteran signing. A history of injury troubles but. Meh. One year, $8 mil, young pitching staff. I like it.

timbre21

Danny Duffy would be a good signing as well

GlypheNotes

Now sign Matt Moore, so hill has someone to mentor.

And Profar, for some veteran defense.

skliesen

The positive for this winter is clearly adding numerous seasoned veterans who are winners and are of high character. Hill certainly fits this mold.

Of course Pirates need more “dudes.” Players who strike fear into opponents fans. And hopefully Endy, Tank, and maybe Nick G, QP, and Burrows will fit that mold, but they also need players who show the youngsters how to prepare and play the game properly day in and day out.

Greatness often is attained by doing the little things right consistently. Hill may be the ideal MLB player for this skill set.

GlypheNotes

Dudes who strike fear is subjective and amorphous. Happy to sign anyone willing to come to Pittsburgh who is above replacement level.

There’s also a fulfillment here of giving the other team a variety of looks. No one else on the roster is throwing Rich Hill stuff, because no one else in the league is throwing Rich Hill’s stuff.

Also saves Velasquez from having to pretend he’s the all wise veteran on the staff.

Catch_22

This is Ben actually trying and I don’t mind the additions considering his budget. Hedges isn’t going to provide value offensively, but I love the defense, especially for the young arms. Give me a no hit, all glove C before an all hit no glove C all day. I’m OK with the additions of 1b & DH.

Cherington said he wanted to get OB% guys and he did.

skliesen

I definitely agree. BC is exceeding expectations. I was hoping for a veteran SP on a multi-year deal, but otherwise, I’m a fan of the roster construction he’s done so far this winter.

timbre21

Us Pirate fans, signed and traded for hitters that hit less than .230 and sign a 43 year old with 5 plus ERA, yes we like the roster construction
This is the hope we all have, not disagreeing
It is where we are……

skliesen

Friendly reminder Anderson and Quintana had similar ERA’s before coming to the large left field of PNC Park. And we saw how that worked out.

As for the hitters, definitely bigger risk. Banking on Choi bouncing back from elbow injury and Santana benefiting from new shift rules and short pitch in RF.

All 3 have winning pedigree, which has huge value in changing culture of clubhouse.

jaygray007

Payroll up in the high 60s, be still my beating heart

steve_zielinski

A mid-season trade candidate.

1979andCounting

Nope. There’ll be no trade market for a soft-tossing LH with a 5.00 era! Not even if BC sends a couple million. This is Hill’s last stop.

steve_zielinski

There’ll be no trade market for a soft-tossing LH with a 5.00 era! Not even if BC sends a couple million. This is Hill’s last stop.

There is always a trade market for pitchers.

Wilbur Miller

Hill hasn’t had an ERA above 4.27 in ten years.

steve_zielinski

I learned one thing during the Coonington era: I griped about dumpster diving when the Pirates obtained Burnett and Liriano. A signing like this one is defensible on team building grounds. Cherrington seems to be setting the table for replacing these veterans with some of the prospects at AAA. The next trade deadline could be interesting.

1979andCounting

Not for 43 year olds! Name one if you can find a past trade, excluding a possible knuckleballer.

steve_zielinski

The number of 42 yo pitchers is limited, I’d say. If Hill pitches well, some team will have the need. Boston wanted him back. It’s not as though the Pirates was the only interested team.

Wilbur Miller

Def improvement. High risk high reward instead of high risk low reward.

timbre21

High reward?

Wilbur Miller

Somewhere a bit short of Quintana if we’re lucky, then a good trade. Plus he helps keep the rotation solid until they’re ready to go with young guys. For the investment (by MLB standards, not Bargain Bob standards) that’s a good return.

leefieux

Time will tell. Age HAS to catch up to him at some point. Father Time is undefeated.

jaygray007

Super admirable 2022. They now run like 10 deep at pitcher. So much better than last yr.

Now sign a RF and deal some of the LH OF depth for something else fun

skliesen

I still think Reynolds gets dealt before Opening Day.

juniorkrz

Would have much preferred the Bucs pooled the money BC spent on marginal players and added one sure thing.

battlingbucs

So that’s 8 for Hill, 6 for Santana, 5 for Hedges, 4 for Choi, 3 for Velasquez and 2 for Garlin. So that’s roughly 28. Ross Stripling signed for 2/25. Have to figure the Pirates would need to beat that to sign him so you’d rather have someone like Stripling for the next two years than this assortment.

juniorkrz

Not Stripling, but you sure could do better than that bunch.

timbre21

Who wants to come here? Would mean a big overpay, aint happening

Last edited 1 month ago by timbre21
skliesen

Too much risk in that tactic. I don’t ever expect that to happen while BN is Owner.

Catch_22

One sure thing and multiple holes throughout the roster.

Angels have 2 sure things and nothing to show for it, other than one playoff series in Trout’s career.

If you have a roster like Tampa and just need that one piece (Morton) then sure. The 2022 Pirates had multiple areas to address.

AdministrativeSky236

While i dont disagree, im not sure who we couldve gotten for just a year at a high AAV since we are mostly rolling short deals. Like syndergaard instead of these guys doesnt do much for me

ArkyWags

Who says it only has to be one year at a higher AAV? Why can’t it be multiple years?

SBRO

Nutting says.

AdministrativeSky236

Their MO this offseason has been mostly one year commitments. Seems like a clear strategy on their part

ArkyWags

I think the off-season has been hit and miss with the one year guys. Choi, Hill and Santana I’m pretty fine with; I’m not sure they needed both of Choi and Santana but ok. VV and Garcia are pretty meh and I don’t like the Hedges signing at all. I’ve never been as much a fan of the drips and drabs approach.
I’d have much preferred them using the money for the latter three on one player. Someone like Benintendi for the OF, or any slew of the pitchers signed in that mid-tier range (Anderson, Q, Stripling, etc).

Catch_22

VV, Jarlin and Hedges collectively cost a shade over 10M.

Guys you’re naming cost at minimum of 13M and they’re not one-year deals.

You also have to factor in wanting to come to Pittsburgh. You would more than likely need to outbid the other teams. If I’m a free agent like Benintendi, I’m going to the White Sox over the Pirates.

ArkyWags

Is it that much of a stretch to sign three guys for near 11mil vs a player for 15 like Benintendi? I mean if five years is a bridge too far, is a two year deal for Q or Manea at 12.5 doable? If it is that much trouble to inch higher, they may as well not sign anyone.
As for guys wanting to come here, didn’t Q just sign in Pgh last off-season?

Last edited 1 month ago by ArkyWags
Catch_22

Q had no leverage last off-season.

NMR

Bro I think you solved your own puzzle; of course they’re gonna have to outbid their competition to get a quality free agent!

That’s the cost of doing business like 98% of the time whether you’re a contender or not.

If the idea is for them to play in FA, then yes, they’re going to have to pay more than their competitors.

Scrappy2499

Could be a real decent pickup, the park may help him put close to his FIP.

john_fluharty

Good point

zebug

I like…use him until the trade deadline, deal for a prospect while opening the door for Burrows and/or Priester.

forkball

Not a bad addition – trending optimistic.

Last edited 1 month ago by forkball
robertkasperski

Hope that they can get a pretty good 4 months out of him. He can teach the youngsters what they need to do to make a long career before we get a decent prospect or two for him

timbre21

So we have to drop someone from the 40 man to sign Hill,
oops that player we drop may end up far better than the one they trade Hill for at trade deadline. Hmmm

Last edited 1 month ago by timbre21

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