The best starting pitcher in a very arid free agency class is Rich Hill, and naturally he’s drawing plenty of attention: Very serious from the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, semi-serious from the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers, while the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles are observers at this point, not active participants in chasing him.
Hill had what you can call a breakout season at the age of 36. He played well, but very little in 2014 and 2015 (Yankees & Red Sox) due to injuries, but after signing a one-year, $6 million deal with the Oakland Athletics, everything came together for him. He was traded during the season to the Los Angeles Dodgers, which didn’t affect him at all, at least not poorly. He helped the Dodgers into the postseason and played well for them there until they got knocked out by the Chicago Cubs. He finished 2016 with a 2.12 ERA in 20 starts, pitching through 110.1 innings, posting a 0.997 WHIP and 3.91 K/BB ratio.
Now Hill isn’t young, and he’s prone to injuries, which means observing his innings is a key part of having him on the team. But unless this is a one-and-done case, Hill presents a very intriguing addition to any team looking to bolster their rotation. He’s probably looking for a three year deal at $15 million a season so he can finally get his one big deal before he retires, but a fat two-year deal is also something he might consider.
The Yankees are the worse off of the high-spending teams in terms of veteran arms in their rotation, which makes it completely plausible they’ll outbid anyone also gunning for Hill. The Astros and Rangers seem to be interested in the same players this offseason, but might not want to actually win a bidding war and have Hill on the wage bill for 3 years and guaranteed $50 million. The Dodgers would love to keep him, but finances aren’t exactly clear right now.
Personally, I think Hill would love to go back to Boston, but like the Orioles, they seem to be quite full in their starting pitching situation. Hill really enjoyed his short time with the Red Sox, but I’m not sure they feel like spending $15 million a season in order to make a reunion. The Orioles have bigger needs, so I doubt they’ll make a competitive offer for him.