The Pirates Announce Rich Hill Signing; Zach Thompson is Designated for Assignment

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.

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TNBucs

One thing about this offseason is that it shows Cherington can be quick to move on from his acquisitions, whether they were draftees or trade acquisitions.

roberto

If you make decisions, you make mistakes. To err is human. Acknowledging that is one part of being a good manager.

Mblee24

Why not go get Michael Wacha on 2-3 year deal, grab Andrew chafin on a one year deal, and grab McCutchen on a 2 yr deal to finish his career. DFA Villade, trade Mitchell, and DFA Underwood. This is how I’d finish up the off-season.

emjayinTN

Difficult to think the Pirates are interested in any “fillers” beyond a one year basis. Rookie Contreras and 1 year Oviedo are joining the Rotation of Hill, BRU, and Keller. Waiting patiently are Michael Burrows, Quinn Priester, Luis Ortiz, Cody Bolton, and Max Kranick will be back possibly in June.

emjayinTN

Forgot Velaquez also signed for a place in the Rotation

AdministrativeSky236

Dont know where to put this, but per heyman the bucs offered reynolds 6/75 while they mentioned the olson contract 8/168 even though they arent asking that much (paraphrasing poorly here)

1979andCounting

The analysts on MLB Radio talked at length about Reynolds today. I thought one analyst had a good take…….it’s down to Mariners, Yankees, and Dodgers who want Reynolds but Pirates are asking for a fortune. One of these teams, if they want B Rey in their OF, just has to accept “losing” this trade and over-pay BC! The Pirates have the leverage here. Imagine that…..we win a trade? It’s got me thinking this is going to happen, and I’m warming to the idea.

PirateRican21

I really don’t know what the Mariners have to offer at this point, Texas on the other hand has a few interesting combinations ( and Leiter and Rocker are not included in any!). Hoping a trade goes down before February, my money is on the Dodgers.

AdministrativeSky236

They got some pitching

Wilbur Miller

Please no Leiter or Rocker. They could be the latest cases of Mark Appel College Ace Overhype Syndrome.
If the Dodgers really want Reynolds, it’ll happen.

Last edited 24 days ago by Wilbur Miller
ArkyWags

I think Texas has enough other talent outside of those two to trade for Reynolds. But I’d rather see what the Dodgers have.

Wilbur Miller

Yep.

emjayinTN

All trading Reynolds will do is postpone any significant rebuild for a few more years. Keep him and we have almost a set team going into 2023 and then continuing to add and subtract from there – if we are serious about wanting to play competitive baseball.

1979andCounting

I’m not sure it will postpone the rebuild, but it will take other players picking up their production. Most notably, you’d like to see Cruz replace BRey’s 4 WAR. Santana and Castro and Choi combine for 4-5 WAR. Not even expecting Hayes to contribute much as he is so lost offensively. Replacing one guy’s production like BRey is do doable without stalling the rebuild.

postal911

The problem is if you trade him, the outfield is a trainwreck for how many years? There is nobody we’ve seen last year that is capable of coming close to his production and there is nobody close to the majors that can do that. Now if they would have went into free agency and signed a solid guy then I’d be less hesitant. That’s always the problem when the Pirates trade good players. They trade a guy and then they spend 5 years trying to find a comparable replacement.

PirateRican21

If they were serious I would agree with you, but I haven’t seen a sign of that.

emjayinTN

Excellent point, and especially when the subject of Shelton comes up and BC praises the job he has done with our young players. Obviously, the 3 seasons of .317, ,377, and .383 are not really important to this Pirate Management Team.

Anthony

I think he said they offered six years and more than $75M, not 6/$75M. It’s really no different than what “they” keep saying, which is that he was offered more than Ke.

ravidesai1984

That is what he said and everyone just assumes it was 6/$75m because everyone is ready to believe the worst of this front office.

Wilbur Miller

If they offered 6/75, that’s an absolute farce. It’s effectively them saying, “We’re not a major league franchise.”

Last edited 25 days ago by Wilbur Miller
Anthony

Deductive reasoning tells us these numbers aren’t even remotely correct. The Pirates, through arbitration, have already established BR’s FA value at $22.5M ($13.5M / 60%, 20% plus 40% of FA). There is no way they low-balled him at 6/$75M; these numbers are clearly based on the Ke extension and nothing else.

The reality is that he’ll likely make at least $31.5M over his last two arb years. A six-year deal at this FA money would total $121.5M and include two arb years and four FA years. This would represent 100% of market value for an extension. I could see the Pirate’s offer at 6/$110M (hometown discount) and BR’s camp closer to $160M (Olsen’s extension) for eight years. This gives you the “$50M apart”, but for context, it’s really just two years at a slightly higher AAV.

Last edited 24 days ago by Anthony
TNBucs

These numbers make sense, and if they’re in the ballpark of what the actual numbers are, I’d hope a compromise of something like 7/$135MM is being considered by the FO.

Maybe, given the Braves recent deal with Murphy, something like 7/$125MM could get a deal done.

Wilbur Miller

I agree with your reasoning on the finances, but that’s not the reporting, and the reporting is fully consistent with the team’s entire history under Nutting. This is an owner who refused to invest in a 98-win team. “Deductive reasoning” tells us no owner would be that stupid and cheap, but this one was. So I have no problem believing the reporting. I’m not going to cherry pick the parts favorable to Nutting — “most $$ in team history!!” — and ignore the unfavorable parts — “just barely.”

emjayinTN

Still think the 5/$106 mil is beneficial to both parties. The Pirates keep a team leader at a time when leaders are most needed, and Reynolds banks guaranteed bucks of $100 +, and then gets another bite at age 32.

He could ask for 2 or 3 more years, but that puts him at age 34 or 35. The contracts of late seem to think players are capable of playing into their 40’s, so Reynolds would benefit from getting paid and getting another shot with another team while he is still at a younger age!

PirateRican21

Just play it out or trade him, a 5 year deal is buying 3 arbitration years at nearly $20 million per!!! And just two FA years? Most value if traded now, if not then just go to arb until he’s a FA.

TNBucs

Yes, there’s nothing wrong with just keeping him until FA. Just imagine signing someone of his quality for 3/$31MM—we’d be heaping praise on such a signing and nobody would be suggesting we should then turn around and trade the player in 6 months or a year.

ArkyWags

But it’s more than Hayes got! Richest in team history…that’s gotta count for something right?! What a joke.

Wilbur Miller

Reminds me of when Coonelly used to carry on about how they’d increased payroll 7-8 straight years. I did the math and found their increase was lower than the rate of increase MLB wide. And that was despite starting at an artificially low point because they were rebuilding.
Also reminds me of when NH claimed their 4-24 stretch was statistically a fluke.

SufferinBuccotash

I just heard that repeated on 93.7 The Fan just now.

6/75 is worse than what I expected. My assumption was that it was around 6/80.

Starkey said that Reynold’s agent used the Olson contract as a comp, but Reynolds’ ask was less than that. That would kind of fit with Mackey reporting the other day that they were about $50 million apart in value, and I could definitely see Reynolds asking for 6/120.

Last edited 25 days ago by SufferinBuccotash
Anthony

The Pirates have already established his FA market value through arbitration at $22.5M. It’s more likely they offered something like 6/$110M, and he is asking for 8/$160M. This is roughly $50M apart and makes even more sense in the context of using Olson’s 8/$168M extension as a comp. It’s really more about the years than anything else. This whole thing is being overinflated.

Last edited 24 days ago by Anthony
Mblee24

6/120 is not bad really. Any other franchise would do it. But the pirates will never sign a guy to a big contract like that. It’s crazy to me especially with payroll being so low. You could always front load it now while payroll is low as well. Some many options but he will be gone sooner rather than later.

docdon385

The Pirates just spent over $20mil to rent a catcher, two first baseman/DHs and the oldest player in baseball for a year or less if prospects work out the way everyone hopes. None of those players will ever be part of any contending team. Reynolds making that same amount of money or slightly less over the next 6 years would sure appear to be a better investment if, and that’s a big IF, the Pirates have any serious interest in winning during that timeframe.

Wilbur Miller

This has been the pattern for ages, in various contexts. The Pirates dribble away both money and playing time on guys who have zero chance of ever contributing to a good team in Pgh. Meanwhile, they won’t pay a guy who does. Their problems result even more from poor business practices than they do from cheapness.

steelforce71

Baseball America did a study of trades. They found only 25% of prospects acquired ever even make it the a 40 man roster let alone the majors. BC is clearly falling within the league average in the trade department. I feel fans need to these numbers. When judging any trade long term.

jeffw3000

I would need more details, to know what they consider a prospect. Are they even considering the top 30 guy in their prospects? If so, 25% might be higher than I would expect, if looking at only top 10 guys, or top 20 guys would sound low, or are they thinking of any MILB player as a prospect. If so, then that sounds pretty good if 25% make it to the 40-man, but I doubt that is the case.

leefieux

Yep! That”s why it is best to be in the other position. Just make sure that it isn’t Chris Archer that you’re getting tho.

emjayinTN

Wish we could just pull up all of the opinions leading up to that trade – Glasnow did poorly as a SP and had already been demoted to the bullpen, Meadows was injured way too much, and Baz couldn’t throw a strike!

leefieux

I was against it at the time. I thought that Archer was on the downside. However, of the three players dealt, only trading Meadows bothered me.

roberto

I would chillax on that. He’d grown out of center, hence left at PNC. He never had the arm to play right.

docdon385

That’s why it’s best not to trade a major league all-star caliber player who’s under control for multiple years for a bunch of prospects regardless of who they are.

sammykhalifa

But most trades involve more than one player on the minor league side. I’d have to guess that most trades that are 1:1 have a much higher percentage, and that of the multiplayer trades most teams get at least something out of the “package” of MLers. That 25% includes those throw-in lottery type guys after all.

leefieux

Why guess? Do the research. 🙂 🙂

Wilbur Miller

The 2022 opening day roster is becoming a distant memory. Here are their fates:

Roberto Perez: FA
Andrew Knapp: DFA
Yoshi Tsutsugo: DFA
Daniel Vogelbach: Traded
Cole Tucker: DFA
Josh VanMeter: DFA
Diego Castillo: DFA
Hoy Park: DFA
Michael Chavis: DFA
Kevin Newman: Traded
Ke’Bryan Hayes: Remains
Ben Gamel: FA
Bryan Reynolds: Remains
Jake Marisnick: Released
Mitch Keller: Remains
Jose Quintana: Traded
J.T. Brubaker: Remains
Bryse Wilson: DFA
Zach Thompson: DFA
David Bednar: Remains
Heath Hembree: DFA
Duane Underwood, Jr.: Remains
Anthony Banda: DFA
Chris Stratton: Traded
Wil Crowe: Remains
Dillon Peters: DFA
Aaron Fletcher: DFA
Miguel Yajure: DFA

That’s 28 players, only seven still in the organization and 15 either DFA’d or released. If you regard roster spots as assets, that’s waste on a colossal scale.

leefieux

That’s a good thing, right?

Scam likely

Now are they improved or rearranging the deck chairs?

Anthony

Assets should be replaced when they have no remaining economic life, trying to understand the context of this comment bc there is no way you’d actually be advocating for the 2022 opening day roster.

Wilbur Miller

The idea is to avoid filling over half your roster with “assets” that have no useful life to begin with.

leefieux

Assets: The first three letters apply then?

pittsburghbob69

Imo, Velasquez is a perfect long relief/multi inning RP. Johan Oviedo should be the 5th starter. The rotation should be: Roansy, Keller, Hill, Brubaker, Oviedo.

Zach Thompson should have value to be traded. He has 3 options left. That’s valuable to teams with a 26 man roster crunch and need MLB pitching depth.

ArkyWags

Thompson isn’t good. Options don’t really make a pitcher who has fringe stuff with a crappy season more appealing.

leefieux

Imo, VV is the perfect ‘send to Indy’ candidate.

redwards60

Addition by subtraction…Wilson and Thompson both gone…that is improvement

leefieux

Hopefully.

NMR

Cherington’s record of targeting dudes coming off statistical heaters has proven to be absolutely abysmal. It’s like he’s ignored the last decade of baseball advancement.

Does this club have an analytics department anymore.

SBRO

I wonder if there’s not a simpler explanation other than incompetence here.

Who are we talking about? Park, Castillo, Marcano, Thompson. Am I missing anyone? Do you count Roansy? If so, you have to put him in the win column. You certainly wouldn’t count Wilson or Crowe – they were young and shitty before, they’re still shitty now (only a little bit older). All the lower level dudes, I don’t even know. Most of them were still in the Complex leagues when traded for.

I’m not making excuses for damn sure, but I do wonder if he had all that much to work with in the first place. Does non-elite Clay Holmes bring back anything better than 2 guys who probably had an outlier year? Marcano was probably the #3 or #4 piece coming back for Musgrove. Thompson wasn’t the prize of the Stallings deal. I think it’s possible BC knew the stats were helium-filled but made the deals anyway because he looked at them as throw-ins.

The only guy I have a tough time squaring that thought with is Castillo.

NMR

Absolutely worthy of discussion, and great list. Add Suwinski to it but definitely not Roansy. Roansy was a pandemic miracle.

My issue is that the trend seems to confirm intent, and I can only assume intent implies value. To me they very clearly valued the statistical breakouts of those small sample heaters as evidenced by the fact that so many of their deals were targeting this exact type, who to a man did not come with gaudy tools to back them.

Too coincidental otherwise.

Now I can agree that it might be academic, it’s not like they’ve had much more success with toolsheds like Malone and Yean and Head and Scott and so on. Low-probability targets all around.

I just can’t get around the thought that you at least can dream on the tolls coming together in a manner we just simply know you can’t about small sample stats not backed by tools.

SBRO

Correction, Marcano was in the Frazier trade. Was the #2 piece in that deal.

NMR

Marcano was universally considered the best prospect of that return at the time the trade was made.

b mcferren

Peguero is his make or break

Bednar saved his ass with the Hudson Head mistake

TurnerWardHitsTheWall

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping, into the future……

RAS TN

Won’t be long before BC purchases beachfront property in Nevada. W C Fields was right a sucker is born every day…How about all those actual major league players and what do the Pirates have to show for them…zero zilch nada…

SBRO

It’s getting weird – Cherington is cutting guys he just traded for by the bushel. Park, Castillo, Wilson, Thompson…

I wouldn’t get too attached to Marcano. Or Wil Crowe.

Anthony

As long as he’s intentionally improving the roster, I could care less.

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

It’s better than hoarding them and letting them waste spots but worse than getting good guys in trades.

NMR

They, too, stink.

Wilbur Miller

So I guess the rotation depth chart looks something like this:

Keller
Roansy
Brubaker
Hill
Velasquez
Oviedo
Ortiz
Priester
Burrows
Maybe Nicolas, Bolton, eventually Cederlind
Wei-Chieh Huang
Tyler Chatwood (in the event of nuclear war or something)

b mcferren

didn´t know Cederlind was a starter

pleasant surprise

robertkasperski

comment image&ct=g

b mcferren

like

addition through subtraction

get rid of all the boring guys who play the game without emotion

reynolds is next pls

esd4

I don’t say this very often, but I think this is clearly a bad move. The two other guys on the 40-man who fill the same basic role of sixth-starter/swing-man/middle-reliever are Crowe and De Jong, and even if you think Thompson is the worst of the three, his three options (vs. Crowe’s one and [especially] De Jong’s zero) give him quite a bit more utility/value.

Compared to De Jong in particular, I just don’t see how you can DFA Thompson. Thompson has the option utility, more starting utility, (arguably) better stuff, better control/command, better GB rates, more years of control, better 2023 projections, etc. I think the only thing De Jong has going for him in the comparison is a better 2022 ERA and better 2022 K rates. But the K rates are deceptive, given that Thompson worked mostly as a starter while De Jong was a reliever and they both had the exact same swinging strike rates anyway, and raw ERA is notoriously a poor predictor (and indeed De Jong’s was the result of likely unsustainable BAbip and LOB%). Thompson I think might actually be an okay middle reliever or sixth starter, whereas De Jong is an up-and-down depth guy who doesn’t have the option to go up-and-down.

Obviously, this is a very minor move, and it’s not like Thompson is anything special. And I imagine they get at least a little something for him in trade, too. But most of the time I can at least see where the team is coming from with the moves they make, and this one just seems clearly wrong.

goodtymes31

Eh, 6th starter/swing man, and middle reliever are two different roles. Crowe and Dejong are bullpen guys and are only going to throw 1-2 innings at a time. Ideally, your 6th starter is in AAA and staying stretched out, and given the options, there likely isn’t a rotation spot for him there. Oviedo and Ortiz will likely be the guys moving up and down

MB21

I have to say this is a mild surprise. I thought Thompson would be considered a serviceable back-end rotation/long relief option. In a way, this is really encouraging if it suggests any striving towards accountability for poor performance. Dropping first Wilson and now Thompson suggests that a higher level is required – good!

Catch_22

At this point Thompson was superfluous.

postal911

Is he? Velazquez sucks, Hill can only go 100 innings and is a huge injury risk, brubaker sucks…… It’s not a big loss but he had options and could have sat in AAA in case of injuries.

ArkyWags

Bru is better than Thompson.

postal911

Nowhere did i say Thompson is better. I said he’s AAA depth. Brubaker and Velazquez should not be a locks for the rotation. They should have some competition.

ArkyWags

I know you didn’t say that, I just remarked that Bru is better and mean that he should have a spot. Brubaker put up 1.9 fWAR. That’s fine for a spot in the back of the rotation. You may want to group him and VV together, but VV has proven over the course of his career that he can start. JT drastically reduced his homers last year and if he can take some command steps, he may get even better. If he just maintains, that’s still a decent 4 starter.

Last edited 24 days ago by ArkyWags
Catch_22

Substantially.

ArkyWags

Yeah I thought that was common knowledge but I guess not!

jaygray007

I bet they deal him for something mildly interesting. Serviceable arm with minor lg options.

If they got cash for the option less Wilson, they’ll get a prospect for thompson

NMR

Nah come on man, he’s the personification of replacement level.

Marlins picked him up as a minor league free agent and sold his one-month heater to Cherington after already falling back to earth. He stinks.

jaygray007

I didn’t say a *good* prospect!

AdministrativeSky236

Honestly an 18 yo lottery ticket would be fine with me, for a spare part a lottery ticket is always a win imo

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