The Pittsburgh Pirates announced on Thursday afternoon that they have signed left-handed pitcher Rich Hill to a one-year contract. The news of the Hill signing was broken back on December 27th, but he still needed to take his physical before making the deal official. To make room on the 40-man roster, right-handed pitcher Zach Thompson has been designated for assignment.
Hill, who turns 43 years old in March, 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 and will serve in that role with the Pirates as well. He will be paid $8M this season.
Thompson was going to be in a rough spot this season. The Pirates should have Hill, Mitch Keller, Roansy Contreras, JT Brubaker and Vince Velasquez in their Opening Day rotation, with Johan Oviedo and Luis Ortiz looking like the early season 6th/7th options, and top prospects Mike Burrows and Quinn Priester likely to join the big league rotation during the season.
Thompson went 3-10, 5.18 last year in 22 starts and seven relief appearances, with a 1.51 WHIP, a 4.87 FIP and a 90:46 SO/BB ratio in 121.2 innings. That was a significant drop-off from the numbers he put up with the Miami Marlins as a rookie in 2021, before he was acquired by the Pirates in the Jacob Stallings deal. Thompson had a 3.24 ERA, a 3.69 FIP, and a 1.21 WHIP, with 66 strikeouts in 75 innings in 2021. He turned 29 years old in October.
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.