Red Sox Rumors: Potential “homecoming” for starting pitcher Rich Hill

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 01: Rich Hill #62 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the New York Yankees during their game at Yankee Stadium on October 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 01: Rich Hill #62 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the New York Yankees during their game at Yankee Stadium on October 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

Rich Hill could be in store for a homecoming if the Boston Red Sox sign the free agent starting pitcher to fill their vacant rotation spot.

It’s no secret that the Boston Red Sox have struggled with pitchers- both the starting rotation and the bullpen. In the offseason, they fired pitching coach Dana LeVangie and promoted Dave Bush to replace him.

With a new Chief of Baseball Operations in charge, one of the major issues Chaim Bloom will have to tackle is their pitching problem. What do the Red Sox do with Chris Sale – is he likely to stay healthy and return to his normal form next season? Can they get rid of David Price? Will they try to re-sign Rick Porcello? What will come of Nathan Eovaldi and the massive 4-year contract the Red Sox gave him?

Then there is the myriad of bullpen issues, not the least of which resulted in 31 blown saves in 2019. Can they get rid of the crew and start from scratch? Who can they get for a low price?

Rich Hill returning to Boston could be a good first move in resolving the looming question mark that is the Red Sox pitching.’s Anthony Castrovince explains why a reunion between Hill and the Red Sox makes sense.

"“The Red Sox need to round out their rotation on the cheap this winter, and, given the injuries that plagued Rich Hill in 2019 with the Dodgers, the 39-year-old Boston native should be a reasonably affordable option,” writes Castrovince.“The Red Sox are the team with whom Hill resurrected his career in 2015, and it would be touching to see him return there. Not even the old Baker Chocolate Factory on the Neponset River could have turned out something that sweet.”"

The 39-year-old left-handed pitcher was born in Boston. Hill is entering free agency after only having played in 13 games in 2019 because of injury limitations (both knee issues and a forearm strain). He had an impressive 2.45 ERA, 1.125 WHIP, and 1.4 WAR. But over just 13 games it’s not enough to fairly judge what the future will hold for him.

Over his 15-year career, Hill has a 3.82 ERA, 13.6 WAR, 1.225 WHIP. Hill has bounced around during his MLB career, having played as a Boston Red Sox, Los Angles Dodger, Chicago Cub, Oakland Athletic, Cleveland Indian, Los Angles Angel, New York Yankee, and Baltimore Oriole. He played in Boston for four years from 2010-2012 and again in 2015.

Hill’s return to Boston in 2015 was that of a Cinderella story, resurrecting his career. He has a 2.91 ERA over 466 innings since then.

Hill is coming off a 4-year deal with the Dodgers, earning $18.6 million in 2019. Since 2016 (not including the 2019 season), he’s pitched in at least 100 innings per season.

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Hill was noted on the Leaderboards for being 7th for his Win-Loss % in 2018. Aside from that, he hasn’t appeared nearly as much on the Leaderboards as other Red Sox pitchers. Hill was the second-oldest active player in the NL during the 2019 season.

Baseball-Reference has Hill projected to have a 3.79 ERA and 1.235 WHIP over 102 innings pitched. Hill underwent primary revision surgery in late October. This puts him out until June or July. As MLB Trade Rumors Steve Adams explains, the surgery is like the Tommy John surgery but is less intrusive.

MLB Trade Rumors projects Hill will sign a 1-year $6 million contract. Is it worth it for the Red Sox?

He should be a Red Sox free-agent target. When Hill is healthy, he is lethal. He’s a big strikeout pitcher. That being said, Hill is a gamble. Since 2016, he’s missed 322 days because of injuries.

The Red Sox need to seek out low salary pitchers to add to their staff. That would place Hill in the running for what we’re looking for. A low price, low commitment deal could be exactly what it takes to make a reunion occur. Considering the recent surgery and additional time that Hill will need to recover, it’s possible that the Red Sox could go after Hill for less money.

Next. Red Sox have yet to hold talks with Mookie Betts. dark

Would signing Hill be the right move or just a nice story? There’s already a number a question marks about the health of pitchers like Sale, Eovaldi, and Price. He’ll be 40 years old next time he takes the mound. Hill is a risk to take. The Red Sox should continue to look for a pitcher that isn’t going to add to the health questions of pitchers.