The Pittsburgh Pirates have made the Rich Hill signing official and a corresponding 40-man roster move has been made. What role will Rich Hill hold in the rotation and who was designated for assignment to clear space for the lefty veteran?
Earlier this offseason, 42-year-old veteran Rich Hill signed a 1 year, 8 million dollar deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates, which was a massive shock for the fanbase. Some Pirates fans were excited about this addition, while others were displeased. Coming into the 2022 offseason, the Pirates did not have a single left-handed starting pitcher on the roster, and Hill will fill in that vacancy nicely.
With this addition, Hill will join the rotation alongside future ace Roansy Contreras, Mitch Keller, and JT Brubaker, with Vince Velasquez and Johan Oviedo competing for the no. 5 rotation spot during Spring Training. While fans may criticize the Pirates for signing an almost 43-year-old starting pitcher to an 8 million dollar contract, this is just for one year and Hill will provide the Pirates with much needed veteran leadership/mentorship for this young rotation. Hill has been an established Major League pitcher for almost two decades with an elite curveball and has been extremely consistent in his career. Since 2015, Hill has a 3.32ERA, which is 9th in the MLB behind the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Gerrit Cole, and Max Scherzer. As long as Rich Hill eats innings, mentors the young pitchers, and provides great veteran leadership, and puts up solid numbers on a continuous basis, he will be a great asset for the Pirates rotation.
In order for Hill to officially sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates, a corresponding 40-man roster move had to be made. In a rather surprising announcement, earlier today, 29-year-old RHP Zach Thompson was officially designated for assignment according to Jason Mackey on Twitter.
After being acquired in the Jacob Stallings trade to the Miami Marlins, Thompson didn't adapt well in Pittsburgh. Prior to the trade, Thompson put up solid numbers with the Marlins in 2021, posting a 3.24ERA, 3.69FIP, 66 strikeouts, 28 walks, and a 1.21WHIP across 75 innings pitched, but with the Pirates, he had a disappointing season in 2022. In 121.2IP, Thompson had a 5.18ERA, 4.87FIP, 90 strikeouts, 46 walks, and a 1.51WHIP. Thompson gave up a lot of hard contact and had walk issues, which led to an inflated WHIP. Many Pirates fans, including myself, had high hopes for Thompson entering the 2022 season, especially being one of the main pieces that was acquired for Gold Glove Catcher Jacob Stallings, but unfortunately, Zach Thompson didn't live up to expectations.
It was quite surprising that the Pirates would give up on Thompson after only one season, instead of DFA'ing Duane Underwood Jr. or Ryan Vilade, but with this move, the rotation has been solidified with the addition of Rich Hill. With this move, the Pirates seem to be cleaning house that way our top pitching prospects like Quinn Priester, Mike Burrows, and Luis Ortiz will get more looks during the 2023 season. If the Pirates have completely given up on Thompson, expect him to be traded to another team for cash considerations or a PTBNL (player to be named later). If he passes through waivers, he will be sent down to Triple-A Indianapolis to start out the 2023 season. With these recent additions, the Pittsburgh Pirates Opening Day roster is going to look completely different compared to the 2021 Pittsburgh Pirates roster, and hopefully, the Pirates will show signs of hope and not have another 100 loss season.