Rich Hill will be returning to L.A. in 2017 after signing a three-year, $48 million contract with the Dodgers on the first day of the Winter Meetings. Amidst a weak free agent class, Hill’s 2.12 ERA in just over 110 innings split between Oakland and L.A. last season made him one of the shiniest pieces up for grabs.
Hill emerged as an ace at 36 (he’ll be 37 next season) just a few years after failing out of affiliated ball following his infant son’s death. “I never thought I was done,” he said at the press conference to announce the deal on Monday.
I always knew with the ability that I had and the desire that was always there was something that never left. So being able to stay healthy was one of the main things and never quit. That’s the biggest thing is persevering through those times of failure. But you fail. When you fail, you learn. I don’t think you really know what failure is—or I didn’t know what failure was until I got older and understood that that was experience. That’s something that life teaches you and baseball teaches you. But for me, baseball has taught us how to deal with things off the field that are far greater than what you can deal with on the field.
The biggest concern going forward for Hill and the Dodgers will be his durability over the course of a full year. 2015 was one of only two seasons that he’s thrown over 100 innings (remember when Dave Roberts pulled him from a perfect game after only 89 pitches?) But if he can stay healthy and contribute to a rotation that also includes Clayton Kershaw and Julio Urias, the reigning NL West champions should have no trouble competing. As for how the Dodgers are defining “contribute,” they seem to be setting the bar fairly low:
$16 million a year to pitch to go out there and make 20 or quality starts every year? Not a bad spot for a 37-year-old pitcher who has made just over $11 million over the course of his career.