clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Rich Hill: offseason target?

Veteran lefty could offer stability to uncertain rotation picture

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill retook the mound last night after missing nearly three months of action with a series of injuries. After struggling with a forearm issue early in 2019, a balky knee complicated his rehab process and, as a result, the 39-year-old made on Tuesday what was only his 11th appearance of the year on a cool September night in San Diego.

Though he got off to a shaky start in the first inning, Hill settled in nicely once he found his command. His signature curve whipped through the zone with authority, and his 90 mph fastball showed late life to both sides of the plate. Balky knee and all, Hill did what he always seems to do against the Padres—he dominated.

Since becoming a Dodger in 2016, Hill has logged 55 sparkling innings against San Diego. His 1.80 ERA, 68 strikeouts, and .182 BAA in those innings speak to both his skill as a pitcher and the poor state of Padre baseball during Hill’s L.A. stay.

But could Hill be a part of the next wave of Padre baseball? Could his veteran smarts, sneaky-good repertoire, and bulldog approach help coalesce a Padre rotation that, as of now, is somewhat of a series of sophomores and suspects?

If the Padres are looking for a veteran presence who could be had for nothing less than free agent dollars, Hill might be a sensible target. 2019 is the last year of a 3-year/$48MM deal signed with L.A. before 2017, but he might be had for even less than that $16MM AAV—largely due to his past history of injury.

Alas, therein lies the rub. While Hill has been a resoundingly effective pitcher in recent years when healthy (as his 3.25 ERA through 322 innings since 2017 would show), the operative term there is “when healthy”. Hill rarely is.

Would it really be sound reasoning to add him to a rotation that already has one veteran, good-when-healthy pitcher in Garrett Richards?

Taken from another perspective, adding Hill could be seen as bet-hedge against a potential Richards injury. Both pitchers are likely to miss starts, but odds are likely that you might have one veteran pitcher stabilizing the rotation at any one time.

While health is obviously a major mark against a potential Hill-Padres union, his handedness doesn’t help matters all that much, either. As a lefty, he could make the rotation a bit of a ‘three’s a crowd’ situation in terms of southpaws—unless AJ Preller decides to deal one of Eric Lauer or Joey Lucchesi.

Other pitching targets available this offseason, like Gerrit Cole and Jake Odorizzi, will be evaluated as potential Padre fits in the coming weeks. For now, how would we feel about Hill heading down the 405 in a what would be a much-publicized defection to Padre brown?