According to Jeff Passan, the Pittsburgh Pirates have signed veteran starting pitcher Rich Hill to a one-year, $8 million deal. What could the Pirates expect from the 43-year-old veteran in 2023?
After returning to the Boston Red Sox in 2022, Rich Hill put up a solid season overall, posting a 4.27 ERA, 3.92 FIP, 109 strikeouts, 37 walks, and a 1.30 WHIP across 124.1 innings pitched. Hill struck out 20.7% of the batters he faced and walked 7% as well. Not ace level numbers, but still solid numbers overall. Hill is nearing the end of his career and the Pirates were arguably the best landing spot for the aging veteran.
Throughout his entire career, Hill has been the definition of consistency as a starting pitcher. Hill has posted solid numbers for almost two decades with a career 3.85 ERA, 3.98 FIP, 1294 strikeouts, 482 walks, and a 1.23WHIP across 1259 innings pitched. Many Pirate fans might remember Rich Hill’s dominant prime seasons with the Dodgers from 2017-2019, but since that time he’s bounced around with the Twins, Rays, Mets, and most recently the Red Sox. Hill has one of the best curveballs in all of baseball, which has been his bread and butter pitch for the last two decades.
With this news, the Pittsburgh Pirates Opening Day rotation will likely consist of Mitch Keller, Roansy Contreras, Vince Velasquez, and Hill, with Johan Oviedo, JT Brubaker, Zach Thompson, and Bryse Wilson competing for the no. 5 rotation spot. Whoever doesn’t make the no. 5 spot will be pushed to the bullpen as a long reliever or will become organizational depth in Triple-A Indianapolis. With this move, Hill will either be traded at the deadline, just like previous southpaws José Quintana and Tyler Anderson, or he will finish the entire season as a solid innings eater with the Pirates.
Hill has been on multiple playoff teams in his career and will provide much-needed veteran presence in the starting rotation. With multiple young prospects like Quinn Priester, Mike Burrows, and Kyle Nicolas on the verge of debuting in the majors, a player like Rich Hill would be a great mentor to help these young prospects develop. Velasquez, who has struggled so far in his career, could learn a lot from Hill and could turn his career around with help from the veteran southpaw.
While 8 million dollars for a 42-year-old starter seems like a lot of money, this might be Rich Hill’s final season and finishing his career with the Pirates might be a possibility. The Pirates desperately needed a left-handed pitcher in the starting rotation and Hill fits that role perfectly. While he isn’t an ace by any means, the Pirates don’t need him to be one. As long as he eats innings every start at a high level, and helps mentor the plethora of young pitching prospects that will debut next season, that’s all the Pirates are asking for.