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LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Signed LHP Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract. [12/5]

A move that feels both natural and completely at odds with what we know. Whether Hill can deliver a performance worthy of this contract isn’t going to be divined by pulling up his B-Ref, FanGraphs, or Baseball Prospectus player card. Nothing historical will prove definitively that Hill will be worth $48 million over the next three years, or that he won’t, because everything about Hill’s past two seasons have been historic of their own accord. We also know the Dodgers have a stable full of horses who can’t run a full lap as it is, and adding another doesn’t necessarily diversify that risk. Of course, the price of the deal certainly reflects the risk involved.

If you’re an optimist, you’re … well, you’re happy. Not just by your nature, but because you like Hill’s chances of staying healthy, making 30-plus starts every year, and maintaining his effectiveness. You like the terms of the deal, because you know that—when healthy—Hill was one of the best pitchers in the game, and gives the Dodgers a similar one-two punch as when Zack Greinke was in LA. You look up I-5, note that the Giants gave Mark Melancon, a closer, just $500,000 less per season (and for one more year) and think “sure, Hill hasn’t pitched a ton, but he can pitch at least as much as Melancon every year.” You wouldn’t really be wrong.

If you’re a pessimist, you’re thinking of Scott Kazmir. Kazmir received a comparable three-year pact from the Dodgers, for a similar $48 million. He even got the opportunity to opt out after year one, a piece of leverage Hill will lack and that Kazmir had little incentive to exercise. You focus on how Hill only threw 110 innings last season, and that was by far the high-water mark for his durability since 2008. You note that despite that “durability,” Hill missed about seven weeks due to a blister issue, missed more time with a groin injury, and had flare-ups of other blisters after returning to health. Oh yeah, and he’s now signed through his age-39 season.

If you’re Hill, you’re emotional. Hill choked up more than once at the press conference announcing the deal, despite telling himself he wouldn’t. It’s hard to blame him. His long and winding road to this point might only be superseded by his teammate Andrew Toles. In discussing why he felt the Dodgers were where he wanted to be, Hill mentioned the fans first, specifically their passion. He noted the desire to win most often, saying:

As I've gotten older it's something that you learn that you only have a certain amount of time and you want to make the most out of your time that you have. Being here in LA gives us that opportunity to bring a World Series to the city. That's what we wanted.

If you’re a neutral observer … well, I won’t deign to know how you feel. But I’d advise you to feel good for a guy like Hill. He’s got pedestrian fastball (by velocity), several curveballs, multiple arm angles, a raging internal fire, and a maniacal work ethic. Despite appearing at least once in every MLB season from 2005-2016, he accrued a meager $9,015,000 in career earnings. Baseball hasn’t always been good to Rich Hill, but finally, for a guy who has always been good for baseball, it was. Oh and Sam? We finally got your answer.

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lipitorkid
12/06
What was Sam's last guess?
TheArtfulDodger
12/06
He said either 3/51 or 3/54
morro089
12/06
It's hard for me to "feel good" for a guy who has made a "meager" $4.5M after taxes because of a unique skill that isn't inherently about making the world better. I understand the sentiment, but this isn't heart warming. The sentence was so silly to read. He does "deserve" the new money though.
majnun
12/06
You don't think baseball makes the world better?
touchstoneQu
12/06
The money goes somewhere. It's either in the pockets of the ownership group, or in the pockets of Rich Hill. In that scenario, I'm glad Hill got paid.
morro089
12/09
That isn't inherently true, it could mean some of that money doesn't go to another player in the free agent pool. Maybe there's X amount of money and Hill just got a bigger piece of that pie. I understand the owners/players argument (I read this site for gosh sake), but insinuating Hill's life has been disappointing because he's struggled...while making $9M dollars seems silly. A narrative was created for a business signing because we love the business, we pour hours and hours into this business and we creative narratives. This business transaction does positively effect a human being and, fine, yay human beings. But I'm indifferent if Hill gets a few more million or an owner, outside of the worker's rights angle (which I think is a strawman argument reply to my comment.)
TheArtfulDodger
12/11
My point wasn't that he struggled relative to those outside the baseball universe, but given his injuries, his promise, his time outside of baseball, etc., it's not an overstatement to say he's had his share of bad things occur, and that this was a proper time to reflect on that and appreciate that someone who has put in the time and effort and work that he has was rewarded, since so many do the same and are not.
TheArtfulDodger
12/06
Sorry you feel that way.
buckb2
12/06
Eh, no need to get overly sensitive here....sure, $9M is "meager" in the context of a major league career, but I'm ok with having it pointed out that $9M is also several times the lifetime earnings of the average American. Today's ball players are incredibly fortunate, and I don't think you'd have heard much complaining from Rich Hill even before this deal was done. I'm happy for him.
BrewersTT
12/07
I agree with you, except that I'd just as soon not have someone chime in every time about $9M or $4.5M being a lot of money to for playing a game. My reaction to that is always, yes, yes, we know. Adding to your reason for being happy for Hill is that seeing someone strive for a goal they have devoted their life to, any goal, at such length and effort, and then get affirmation of success, ought to be reason to celebrate for the guy, no matter what the circumstances.
TheArtfulDodger
12/07
I'm not sure where I was sensitive. I think he is missing the point, personally, but BrewersTT captured much of what I meant. Within the baseball ecosystem (and this is a baseball site) my point stands.