Red Sox Linked to Reunion With 19-Year Veteran to Bolster Rotation

Rich Hill

Getty 19-year MLB veteran Rich Hill has joined the Boston Red Sox three different times in his career.

As Opening Day looms, the Boston Red Sox project to start the season with slim chances of ending it in the playoffs — oddsmakers project the team to win even fewer games than they did in a disappointing 2023.

And perhaps the largest outstanding roster concern is with the starting rotation, particularly now that Lucas Giolito will miss at least a significant portion of the season with injury. To help address this shortcoming, Brandon Scott of Bleacher Report linked the Red Sox to a potential reunion with Rich Hill, a 19-year MLB veteran who has already had three different stints with the team.

“Hill recently said on a Red Sox spring training broadcast that he’s interested in returning to his former team,” Scott reported. “Given the unfortunate season-ending elbow injury to Lucas Giolito, Boston’s top free-agent signing, it makes perfect sense to reunite with a familiar face, even if he’s 43 years old.”

Rich Hill Wants to Make an MLB Comeback in 2024

Hill is most notable among seasoned MLB players for his longevity, rather than any particularly strong seasons, awards or records. In 19 big-league seasons, Hill has pitched for 13 different clubs, maintaining a 4.01 career ERA in 248 starts and 1,405.1 innings. He’s racked up 90 wins and 1,323 strikeouts in that time.

His most productive year came in 2017 for the Los Angeles Dodgers, when he pitched in 25 starts and totaled 166 strikeouts while posting a 3.32 ERA. 

In 2023, pitching on a one-year, $8 million deal for the Pittsburgh Pirates, then the San Diego Padres following a trade, Hill was touched up for a 5.41 ERA. That performance, plus the fact that he is nearly 44 years old, makes his comeback prospects relatively slim. But some familiarity with the Red Sox could make a deal possible.

“It makes sense that he would feel at home (with the Red Sox), having pitched for Boston from 2010 to 2012 and then again in 2015 and once more in 2022,” Scott added. “He’s also a Massachusetts native.”

Rich Hill Would Likely Return to the Red Sox Midway Through the Season

If the Red Sox are ultimately interested in bringing Hill back, it may not be until the season is underway. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that he’s targeting a midseason comeback.

“There are a few reasons behind Hill’s decision-making,” MLB Trade Rumors noted. “The most straightforward one is health… By waiting until midseason, he’d also have a chance to survey the competitive landscape and look to land a spot with a playoff contender.”

If competitiveness becomes a primary factor in Hill’s return, the Red Sox might not end up being a great fit. But a midseason return could make Hill a more attractive candidate from the team’s perspective.  

He seemed to pitch much better in the first part of the 2023 campaign, suggesting he can be effective in a limited number of innings. He maintained a serviceable 4.76 ERA in 22 starts for the Pirates, then ballooned to a 8.23 ERA in his final 10 games for the Padres.

The Red Sox have been searching for pitching help, but the team may be unwilling to spend top dollar for it. Rob Bradford of WEEI has reported that the front office has been unwilling to meet Jordan Montgomery’s asking price, for instance.

Adding Hill would certainly cost less but at 44 years old it’s hard to know if he’d be an upgrade for the Red Sox rotation, depleted as it is.

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