Home Baseball Rich Hill, Red Sox Have “Mutual Interest” In Reunion

Rich Hill, Red Sox Have “Mutual Interest” In Reunion

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Rich Hill revealed on The Bradfo Sho podcast earlier this week that he’s had preliminary talks with the Red Sox about a return to Boston next season, saying that the two sides have “mutual interest” in a deal. Hill, 42, will be a free agent at the conclusion of the post-season.

“We’ve talked and had lunch with a few of the guys in the front office, and understand that there’s a mutual interest there,” Hill said. “Being able to stay home would be great.”

The Massachusetts native signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox last December, and turned in 124 1/3 innings of 4.27 ERA ball across 26 starts. Despite being the oldest active player in the majors, Hill didn’t show any signs of decline in 2022, and advanced metrics were all largely in line with his past few years of work. His strikeout rate dipped slightly from 22.7% in 2021 to 20.7% in 2022, but there were no major changes to his velocity and the lefty walked fewer batters as well (7% in ’22 down from 8.3% in ’21). He did miss a month in July due to a knee strain, and while there’s always some durability concern with a player entering their age-43 season, he’s still made 57 starts in the past two seasons.

Given the state of the Red Sox’ rotation and the fact that Hill lives in the Boston area, it’s no surprise that the two sides are interested in getting a deal done. Nick Pivetta is the most reliable starter under contract for next year, while rookie Brayan Bello showed promise in his 11 starts, but beyond that there’s a lot of uncertainty. Nathan Eovaldi and Michael Wacha combined for 43 starts in 2022, but they join Hill as pending free agents. Former ace Chris Sale is a lock to opt in to the remaining two years, $55MM on his contract (with a $20MM vesting option in ’25), but he’s made just 11 starts in the past three seasons and while he’s expected to be fit for spring training, his injury history is a concern. The team turned to youngsters Garrett Whitlock, Kutter Crawford and Josh Winckowski for starts at points last season, but none is guaranteed to be a rotation option in 2023.

Ultimately, if the Red Sox are looking to compete in a crowded AL East they’ll need to upgrade their rotation. While Hill going into his age-43 season is not the big splash Sox fans may be hoping for, the team will surely need more than one starting pitcher addition, so a reunion with the veteran would solidify the rotation and likely wouldn’t come at a huge financial cost.

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