A terrific season for the 36-year old Rich Hill, including being traded by the Oakland Athletics to the Los Angeles Dodgers, could end up with him getting an unlikely multiyear deal to provide a nice cushion for his retirement, which can’t be that far away.
Despite a series of nagging injuries, including a blister he can’t shake recently, it’s been a terrific season for Hill, making a career-best $6 million this season. He’s started just twice for the Dodgers but hasn’t given up any runs in the 12 innings he’s pitched for them, allowing only one walk per every 5.5 batter he struck out. Overall in 2016, including his time with the A’s, he’s 11-3 with a 1.94 ERA and a 1.034 WHIP, striking out 10.3 batters per nine innings. He has a 48.8% ground ball ratio and 14.9% infield fly ratio through the 88 innings he’s pitched.
Is Hill a starter for a full season? Something around 180 innings, or slightly less? His 88 innings this season is his most since throwing 195 innings for the Chicago Cubs in 2007. Since then he’s mostly been employed as a reliever. The injuries suggest that too much of a workload isn’t recommended, and obviously, giving a pitcher at that age a long term deal is always something of a risk, although Hill isn’t going to command that big of a pricetag when he becomes a free agent again. It’ll be more than the $6 million he made this season, but not by that much. R.A. Dickey signed a $12 million per year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays at the age of 38. He has been OK, far from great, since that 2012 season with the New York Mets.
The Dodgers, despite their injuries and especially losing Clayton Kershaw, are leading the NL West, taking over the top spot from the San Francisco Giants last month, as the Giants have been unable to win consistently since the All-Star break. If Hill stays healthy, along with other IFs (not all of them having to do with players staying healthy), the Dodgers can be seen as the biggest threat in the National League to the Chicago Cubs.