Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays reportedly have scouts monitoring Rich Hill

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Jul 7, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Rich Hill (18) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 7, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Rich Hill (18) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Blue Jays continue to lay the groundwork for a potential pitching addition as the MLB non-waiver trade deadline approaches

The Toronto Blue Jays and Oakland Athletics have gotten very familiar with one another over the last couple of years. The latest link between the two clubs, after the Blue Jays were seen scouting Sonny Gray earlier in the week, is a report from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that Toronto has been monitoring starting pitcher Rich Hill in his two most recent starts since coming off the disabled list.

Dealing Hill at the July 31st deadline is very likely for the Athletics who currently sit in the basement of the American League West with a record of 37-50. He is currently playing on a one-year, $6 million deal, and has been doing his part to ensure that the A’s get some real value back for him in a trade.

Hill’s career arc is a unique one. Now 36, the left-hander spent the early years of his career as a below-average starter before transitioning into the bullpen. Fast forward to 2015 with the Boston Red Sox, and four starts (29.0 IP) with a 1.55 ERA re-established him at the MLB level.

Despite some criticism of the $6 million deal given to Hill at the time, he’s been all Oakland could have hoped for. In 13 starts, he’s earned a 2.25 ERA and struck out 10.7 batters per nine innings.

From Toronto’s side of the situation, an arm like Hill represents a quality two-month plug in their starting five as they gear up for another playoff run. Hill should be available at a more mid-range price than some of the market’s top arms, and if the Blue Jays believe that the success of his past year is sustainable back in the American League East, his performance fills the need well.

The level of need will be another factor for the Blue Jays in this conversation. If the club intends to give Aaron Sanchez an opportunity to stick in the rotation for the full season, perhaps Toronto targets pitchers that are more depth options than immediate rotation pieces. Drew Hutchison represents the only MLB-ready pitcher in-house, and although his MLB appearances haven’t been strong this year, he remains capable of handling quality innings.

Of course, if Rich Hill is a good option for the Blue Jays, he’s likely a good option for another 10-15 teams. Slusser noted that the Red Sox, Orioles, Tigers, Dodgers, and Royals all had scouts on hand for Hill’s recent starts.

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