After a few days of speculation, the Los Angeles Dodgers have officially re-signed left-handed pitcher Rich Hill, whom the team acquired at the trade deadline along with outfielder Josh Reddick for three quality pitching prospects.
The Dodgers announce the signing of free agent LHP Rich Hill to a three-year contract.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) December 5, 2016
According to multiple reports, the deal will be worth $48 million over the three years.
When the Dodgers acquired Hill on August 1, he was on the disabled list with a blister on his throwing hand. He did not make his Dodgers debut until August 24, throwing six shutout innings to beat the San Francisco Giants. In his six starts with Los Angeles, Hill threw 34.1 innings and allowed just seven runs, striking out 39 batters and walking just five. His 1.83 ERA with the Dodgers lowered his overall season ERA to 2.12, the second-best mark in the majors among pitchers with at least 110 innings pitched (behind his teammate, Clayton Kershaw).
With Hill and Kershaw, the Dodgers rotation boasts the two best ERAs in baseball from last season, although both pitchers missed significant time with injuries and neither qualified for the ERA title. Kershaw’s durability has never been a question, but the jury is out on whether Hill will be able to pitch a full season. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Dodgers are aware of the risks:
#Dodgers believe Hill can give them at least 120 high-quality innings per season, and that their depth can make up for any lack of quantity.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 5, 2016
In a free-agent market noted for its lack of top-tier starting pitching talent, Hill was the best starter available, and his return to the Dodgers will likely increase the trade demand for starters such as Chris Sale, Chris Archer, and Sonny Gray. Hill’s return might also increase the likelihood that the Dodgers will unload another starting pitcher in a trade, most likely one or both of Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy.