Although the Dodgers have a noticeable gap at second base, there are still plenty of additions the Dodgers need to address. Starting pitching is one of them.
Rich Hill is almost back with the Dodgers!
Bless you, Peter Gammons- bearer of fantastic news!
When everyone suddenly noticed Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen were free agents Rich Hill was lost in the commotion. I guess it’s because Hill was only with the Dodgers for half a season, but still. Hill has performed like a true ace. A true ace, I say!
One of the things I like to do is a blind comparison of two similar players so I’m not affected by the players’ last name. Often times, the name on the back of a jersey can misguide our judgement of the players’ actual performance.
These are two pretty similar pitchers. It might be a give away with that ridiculous walk rate by Player A, but it still demonstrates the point I’m making.
Player A is Clayton Kershaw, potentially the best pitcher of all time. And of course, since this post is about Rich Hill, he’s Player B.
So yeah, Hill’s kind of good.
Of course though, there’s a stick. If there wasn’t, Hill would easily be getting paid more than just $40 million over 3 years. The first problem with Hill is his age. He’s 36! With his advanced age and pitchers’ arms’ natural ability to spontaneously combust into useless noodles, teams would be wise to be wary.
This point is exacerbated when you realize how many injuries Hill sustained over his career:
|Date On||Date Off||Transaction||Days||Games||Side||Body Part||Injury||Severity||Surgery Date|
|2012-06-09||2012-09-01||60-DL||84||75||Left||Forearm||Strain||Flexor Pronator Mass||–|
|2012-03-26||2012-04-27||15-DL||32||18||Left||Elbow||Recovery From Surgery||Tommy John Surgery||2011-06-09|
|2011-06-02||2011-09-29||60-DL||119||106||Left||Elbow||Surgery||Tommy John Surgery||2011-06-09|
|2009-03-01||2009-03-29||Camp||28||0||Left||Elbow||Stiffness||with Mild Swelling||–|
What gives, Rich! And those injuries are up until 2014 when Baseball Prospectus literally stopped keeping track. Of course, all Dodger fans know about his infamous blister problems this year.
To say he’s injury prone is an understatement.
But, what his age and injury problems have created is an elite pitcher with a potentially minuscule contract. If what Peter Gammons says is true (please, please, please say it is!) then Hill could be a serious bargain for his potential.
If we assume that during free agency one win is worth about $8 million, then Hill needs to produce 5 WAR over the course of his contract to be worth the money the Dodgers will give him. And that number seems really doable. Over his past 22 starts, he’s been worth 4.9 WAR. 22 starts is less than what he could pitch in one year if healthy!
And that’s all this contract revolves around- if. If you think Hill’s arm will fall off the second the Dodgers sign him, well, his contract might turn into dead weight. If you think Hill will at least make 30 starts over the course of 3 years, well, you’ve got an elite pitcher worth the contract.
It’s a big if.
But here’s the thing. The Dodgers have money.
At this very site, we looked into how the new CBA hurts the Dodgers. The Dodgers are also dealing with some debt issues that really aren’t a big deal (seriously, they’re not). But even with all this going on, the Dodgers still have money.
The Dodgers have shown no hesitance to buy pitchers with injury histories. The common thread is their upside when healthy. And of this type, Rich Hill is the crown jewel.