Toronto Blue Jays free agent target: Rich Hill
By Reuben Gasee
Reuben Gasee of Jays Journal will be doing an article series of mid-tier free agents the Blue Jays should pursue. This article will take a look at Rich Hill.
As many know, the Toronto Blue Jays are a very young team. On their current roster, only five players in the names of Hyun Jin Ryu, Rafael Dolis, Ross Stripling, Tanner Roark and Shun Yamaguchi are above the age 30 and one thing those players all have in common is that they’re all pitchers. While they’re all above the age of 30, they’re all on the younger side on the third decade of their lives with the oldest being Roark at 34.
While the rotation has upside that’s also surrounded with tons of question marks, an addition to the starting five would be beneficial to the ball club. Previously in this series, I took a look at the Blue Jays adding either Corey Kluber or James Paxton. While one of those names to the Blue Jays starting rotation would be nice, they might both require a commitment of a pillow contract, which may not be something of interest to the front office due to their injury histories.
Instead, they could land a pitcher of similar talent to those two on nothing more than a one year contract. And that pitcher is Rich Hill.
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Last season with the Minnesota Twins, Hill was able to make eight starts posting a 3.03 ERA with an opponent average of .204. He did miss a bit of time with shoulder soreness, in which in the past few years he’s made a bit of a home with the injured list due to multiple ailments.
Since becoming a full-time starter in the 2016 season, he’s never posted an ERA higher than 3.70 or an opponent average above .225 in one year. Since the 2016 season, he’s struck out 548 compared to 360 hits given up with an ERA of 3.01 in 476 innings pitched while compiling a record of 41-21.
He’s done all of that in his age 36-40 seasons where most players either regress substantially or are out of the league completely. As he enters his age 41 season for the year of 2021, he’s shown no signs of slowing down or his age catching up to him.
Hill would be low risk addition for many reasons. As he’s older, he most likely wouldn’t require a multi-year commitment in which he understands that he wouldn’t be in the future plans of any team. Instead, he’d probably just be looking for a one year deal and would go to the highest bidder in order to make the most money he can as he nears the end of his career.
He also wouldn’t cost that much money as front offices wouldn’t be inclined to pay a soon to be 41-year-old a big sum with a bigger risk that he falters. If last season went as planned, Hill would have been set to make $3 million. With the stats he’s put up over the past five years, he may look to earn a bit more than that for the 2021 season and rightfully deserves so.
Assuming he keeps up his performance, he would be pitching at an ace caliber level on a cheap deal, which all teams would love to have, especially with owners crying poor due to financial losses they’ve suffered last season.
Also, Hill would be able to keep a rotation spot warm for the Blue Jays up and coming pitching prospects in guys like Alek Manoah, Adam Kloffenstein and Simeon Woods Richardson. Neither of those guys are expected to be major factors in the rotation in the 2021 season, but they are expected to be a big part of it down the road. Hill wouldn’t get in the way of that as he’d only be in on a one year contract.
I think Hill would be a great addition to the Blue Jays pitching staff.