In the week before Thanksgiving, you can get a little wild as a writer. The MLB hot stove cools while players and clubs head home for the holidays, and the simple thought of homecomings stoked an idea in the head of an MLB writer.
Moreover, Anthony Castrovince over at MLB.com took time to identify free agents that he’d like to see make a return home for the 2020 season. “Home” is open to interpretation — for some its a return to the club they were drafted by, for others its a return to a club they made their career with.
For Rich Hill, it’s a return to his home town.
Castrovince looks at Hill signing with the Boston Red Sox, and makes some sense with his reasoning. Here’s the excerpt:
The Red Sox need to round out their rotation on the cheap this winter, and, given the injuries that plagued Rich Hill in 2019 with the Dodgers, the 39-year-old Boston native should be a reasonably affordable option.
The Red Sox are the team with whom Hill resurrected his career in 2015, and it would be touching to see him return there. Not even the old Baker Chocolate Factory on the Neponset River could have turned out something that sweet.
The curveball with the highest spin efficiency in 2019 belongs to the ageless free agent Rich Hill.
99.8% spin efficiency
2919 RPM pic.twitter.com/Z79Qo4aA4w
— Michael Augustine (@AugustineMLB) November 16, 2019
After winning the World Series in 2018 with a payroll over $230M, the afterglow pushed the Boston front office into additional bad contracts, namely Nate Eovaldi. With an even higher payroll in 2019, and a World Series hangover to boot, ownership fired the club’s president mid-season and is now looking to massively cut costs — hence 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts being available in trade talks — while still rebuilding its beleaguered pitching staff.
The Red Sox had 15 different pitchers make starts in 2019. The staff ERA climbed by more than half a run per nine innings and the club plainly underperformed. Where a club like this could benefit is from a veteran presence at the backend of the rotation, and this is where Rich Hill starts to make a lot more sense.
As much as Dodger fans (this writer included) would love to see D. Mountain back in Dodger blue, it just might not be in the cards for Andrew Friedman and company. Following an early postseason exit, Los Angeles is at a crossroads when it comes to its direction… the off-season is weighted by a need to make a big splash in free agency or via trade. As good as Hill has been with LA, he’s no longer a difference maker.
He’ll be 40 in 2020, and may not be able to withstand the rigors of a Major League season. With Boston having just won a championship in 2018, there is some time for them to get creative in attempting to lower their payroll — and there’s no one more creative in baseball these days than Rich Hill.