From 2013-15 the Los Angeles Dodgers had a first-rate complement to Clayton Kershaw in the form of Zack Greinke, who was an ace in his own right. Losing Greinke in free agency to the Arizona Diamondbacks last offseason left a void in the Dodgers rotation that wasn’t addressed until August.
Rather than part with multiple top prospects to acquire the likes of a Chris Archer or Chris Sale at the non-waiver deadlined, the Dodgers traded for Rich Hill. The veteran left-hander had pitched as well as anyone through the first half of the season.
But at the time of the trade, Hill was on the 15-day disabled list due to a blister on the middle finger of his throwing hand. The 36-year-old didn’t make his Dodgers debut until Aug. 24.
Although the Dodgers were overly cautious with Hill because of the self-described “open wound,” he more than met expectations.
While it wasn’t until September that the Dodgers were able to reap the benefits of having a rotation led by Kershaw and Hill, the 2017 season should be a much different set of circumstances.
And knowing that he’ll again be teammates with Hill is something Kershaw told Alanna Rizzo of Spectrum SportsNet LA he’s looking forward to:
“I’m so excited to have Rich back. He’s an awesome competitor and great guy, just somebody you want to have around your clubhouse. Not to mention what he brings on the field, the consistency he had the last two years, and his ability to get guys out. … I like watching Rich pitch, he’s about as fiery as you get. I love that stuff, I think that’s awesome to have that. It will be fun to watch that again.”
In September the Dodgers were said to have interest in re-signing Hill to a multiyear contract prior to free agency beginning. Although that never manifested, they secured his return by the first day of the Winter Meetings.
Hill went 3-2 with a 1.83 ERA in six starts for the Dodgers, and 9-3 with a 2.25 ERA, 2.53 FIP and 1.09 WHIP overall in 2016. The long-term contract is the first of Hill’s career, and while it made for an emotional moment, he remains focused on the ultimate goal of winning a World Series.
Hill’s three-year, $48 million contract included a $2 million signing bonus and annual increasing salaries over the lifetime of the deal. The $48 million guarantee matches the largest Andrew Friedman has committed to a player during his tenure as Dodgers president of baseball operations.
Brandon McCarthy (four-year contract) and Scott Kazmir (three years) both signed for the same total.