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.
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:
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.