The Red Sox have agreed to a one-year contract with free agent left-hander Rich Hill, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. The deal is still pending a physical, but figures to increase the size of Boston’s 40-man roster to 39.
Hill, who turns 42 in March, has been linked to the Red Sox for quite some time as this will mark the seventh instance in which he has signed with Boston as a free agent.
The Milton, Mass. native was originally drafted by the Cubs in the fourth round of the 2002 amateur draft out of the University of Michigan, but has spent parts of four major-league seasons (2010-2012, 2015) with the Sox.
After garnering interest from the Red Sox last winter, Hill ultimately inked a one-year, $2.5 million pact with the Rays in February and was later traded to the Mets in July.
Over 32 appearances (31 starts) between both clubs, the veteran southpaw posted a 3.86 ERA and 4.34 FIP to go along with 150 strikeouts to 55 walks across 158 2/3 innings of work in 2021.
The 158 2/3 frames Hill threw this year marked the most he has accrued in a single season since 2007 (195 innings pitched), when he was an up-and-coming 27-year-old with the Cubs.
Per Baseball Savant, the 41-year-old lefty operates with a six-pitch mix that consists of a four-seam fastball, curveball, sinker, cutter, changeup, and slider. He held opponents to a .111 batting average against with his sinker, a .167 batting average against with his changeup, and a .176 batting average against with his cutter this year.
Listed at 6-foot-5 and 221 pounds, Hill — who is represented by ACES — will be embarking upon his 18th big-league season come Opening Day 2022.
By reportedly agreeing to a deal with Hill just hours before Major League Baseball’s impending work stoppage, the Red Sox have shown that adding starting rotation depth has been a priority so far this off-season.
In the wake of losing Eduardo Rodriguez to the Tigers via free agency, Boston has gone out and signed right-hander Michael Wacha to a one-year, $7 million deal and veteran left-hander James Paxton to a one-year, $10 million deal that is pending a physical and includes a two-year club option within the last four days.
Like Wacha and Paxton, Hill is somewhat of a lottery ticket given his age and injury history. Still, Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. must have felt that the potential rewards outweighed the risks, as Hill is once again slated so suit up for his hometown team.
A product of Milton High School, Hill was used as a reliever in his first stint with the Red Sox from 2010-2012, pitching to the tune of a 1.14 ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio of 36:15 over 40 total relief appearances spanning 31 2/3 innings pitched.
In his second stint with the club, Hill came aboard by signing a one-year deal out of Indy Ball in August 2015. He then proceeded to put up a 1.55 ERA and 2.27 FIP in four starts (29 innings pitched) and leveraged that impressive stretch into a major-league deal with the Athletics. Since then, he has pitched for the A’s, Dodgers, Twins, Rays, and Mets.
Of all the teams Hill has pitched for throughout his lengthy career, though, he credits the Red Sox for being one of the best at doing what they do.
“The Red Sox do things right,” Hill told Speier last month. “I’ve been around 14 organizations. If I tell you that they’re in the upper echelon, they’re doing pretty good.”
(Picture of Rich Hill: Jim Rogash/Getty Images)