Pirates Prospects Daily: Rich Hill Fills Out the Pirates Rotation

I think it’s safe to say that the rotation is set for the 2023 Pittsburgh Pirates.

The team agreed to a deal with left-handed pitcher Rich Hill yesterday, locking down the veteran starter for $8 million this season. Hill has pitched in the majors for 18 seasons, and will be in his age 43 season. He’s still producing, putting up a 1.8 fWAR last year in 124.1 innings of work with Boston.

The Pirates add Hill to a trio of Mitch Keller, Roansy Contreras, and JT Brubaker. They’ve also signed right-handed pitcher Vince Velasquez, who will likely round out the starting group on Opening Day.

What I like about the addition of Hill is the experience that he brings. His statistical performance from last year is a boost to the current rotation, but his years of experience across many organizations is essential for this young team.

This looks like it will be a rotation that grows increasingly younger as the season progresses. The first half could allow Hill to pass the torch to Keller, Contreras, and Brubaker. It’s very possible that Hill gets traded at the deadline, coming in on a one year deal.

If that happens, I would expect a youth movement in the rotation over the final two months, if it hasn’t happened already. The Indianapolis rotation currently has Johan Oviedo, Luis Ortiz, Quinn Priester, Mike Burrows, and several other starting depth options who might not make the Opening Day cut in then majors.

If Keller, Contreras, and/or Brubaker can step up as leaders this year, it would provide a nice foundation of leadership for when those prospects arrive.

As far as his own performance, I would expect Hill to be able to maintain his pace from the last two years, and possibly see an uptick from pitching in PNC Park. In the last two years, Hill has combined for a 4.04 ERA in 283 innings of work, averaging a 1.75 WAR per year.

This move continues a trend of the Pirates stabilizing their roster with veterans who can still provide value on the field.

Highlight of the Day

Pirates Prospects Daily

**As mentioned above, the Pirates agreed to a deal with LHP Rich Hill.

**Anthony Murphy writes about how pitch framing looks to still be a point of emphasis for the Pirates.

**David Hague listed his top ten photos from the 2022 Pirates season.

**I wondered what Luis Ortiz really needs with two plus pitches already in his repertoire.

**Missed yesterday? In First Pitch, I discussed baseball and religion.

Song of the Day

Pirates Prospects Weekly

In this week’s Article Drop, Anthony Murphy writes about how pitch framing is still a point of emphasis for Pirates catchers.

Pitch Framing Is Still A Point Of Emphasis For Pittsburgh Pirates Catchers

David Hague breaks down his best photos from the 2022 season. I love this post.

David Hague: Best Pirates Photos From the 2022 Season

I looked at what else Luis Ortiz needs, aside from the two plus pitches that he already has.

With Two Plus Pitches, What Else Does Luis Ortiz Really Need?

In this week’s First Pitch, I dug into the topic of baseball and religion.

First Pitch: Baseball and Religion

Check back Wednesday at noon for my latest column.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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Scam likely

Wilson 15%strikeout rate with a 1.50 hr rate , yup that’s not a good combination to have.

PirateRican21

Bryse Wilson released! There are about 5 other dudes I would release before him, but whatever, he was given plenty of chances.

Last edited 1 month ago by PirateRican21
ricramer

It’s the right move.

PirateRican21

Agreed, but I still don’t understand why Vilade is taking up space in the 40.

Anthony

He likely represents a developmental “experiment”. I’m more surprised DeJong has lasted this long.

Last edited 1 month ago by Anthony
AdministrativeSky236

For whatever reason they seem to want him around

PirateRican21

Connor Joe trade makes him more useless than he was before.

b mcferren

OT: if the MLB moved the allstar game to Dec 26, it would be the most watched game of the entire year

buccobrach2

Still need to sign Grienke and Bauer when the dodgers release him, then it will be complete.

joesolo6181

Maybe he can replicate what AJ Burnnet brought to team. Leadership!

AdministrativeSky236

IIRC each team got 30 mil this year for the mlb selling some streaming deal or something like that, if given 30 mil to patch our roster in as many ways as possible i dont know that i could do much better than BC

Anthony

FYI, NO team is going to use proceeds from the sale of assets/investments for payroll purposes as these revenues are both non-recurring and non-baseball related.

1979andCounting

Teams make one-year deals…..they are non-recurring and not on the books next year. Each of the 30 teams are using their BamTech money differently. Of course they could use some of it on payroll.

Anthony

Wow!! Payroll is a recurring expense, and it’s budgeted based on recurring revenues. A one-year deal is a payroll expense, thus it’s recurring. The term of a contract has nothing to do with it, other than to determine whether it’s a longer term liability.

No business owner would lump the proceeds from an investment sale into their operating P/L, ain’t going to happen.

1979andCounting

You are hung up on pro forma technique, but you have zero idea what the club’s are actually doing with their BAM Tech revenue! You think Steve Cohen allows GAAP to make his player personnel decisions?!!

Anthony

This has nothing to do with GAAP, and the Steve Cohen example is probably the most egregious outlier-anomaly you could use for making reasonable personnel decisions in any professional sport in NA.

Will the after tax proceeds of a sale of investments/assets be reinvested into the organization, most definitely. But, this would likely be spread out over several years or “projects” and not include funding a normal, recurring expense such as payroll.

I do this stuff for a living and try to share the applied knowledge I have gained over the last 20 years. A competent business owner or operator would not take proceeds from an investment and spend them on a payroll liability. I’ve never seen it happen, and I never have seen it even implied for purposes of enhancing valuation.

I acknowledge that I am likely underestimating the ego of a few MLB owners. However, my comment applies to competent or reasonable ownership groups and that applies more to the Pirates than the Metropolitans.

1979andCounting

Anthony- you are making a huge leap from how USS or HJ Heinz handles their assets versus a professional sports franchise. It’s apples and oranges. Unless you have one as a client, you should stop making definitive statements about how BN chooses to use his BAM Tech funds!

Anthony

“you should stop making definitive statements about how BN chooses to use his BAM Tech funds”

Ironically, THIS is exactly what you’re doing LOL

1979andCounting

“FYI, NO team is going to use proceeds from the sale of assets/investments for payroll purposes as these revenues are both non-recurring and non-baseball related.”

The moral of the discussion, don’t make definitive statements that you cannot back up, like you are some kind of authority on the matter.

Anthony

I am an authority, and I don’t have to “back up” anything. My knowledge doesn’t support your false narrative and assumptions, and it’s really bothering you. Not my problem.

Last edited 1 month ago by Anthony
1979andCounting

Your knowledge about BamTech revenues is no greater than mine, dude.
Just stop the lecturing on the board.

Administrative Skye made an observant post about the $30 mil windfall, and you elected to make a totally unfounded and heavy-handed response.

NMR

no no no you big dummy, the money received by baseball owners from the sale of media rights to the baseball team they own which earns money employing baseball players to play the game of baseball watched by baseball fans very obviously isn’t baseball related.

i don’t know what’s so hard to understand about this.

Last edited 1 month ago by NMR
Anthony

From my understanding, BAMtech is a media streaming platform/technology service provider. I don’t think there are any MLB media “rights” involved in the sale, just the sale of a platform/tech service used for streaming media.

Last edited 1 month ago by Anthony
NMR

“non-baseball related” lolololol

Danatural08

This signing is why they say, “parents, make your baby learn to throw left handed”!

Catch_22

Momma don’t let your babies grow up to be righties…

RAS TN

Mighty impressive starting rotation, watch out Astros…

1979andCounting

Geesh, I need some of that egg nog (ie KoolAid) that is being drunk around here. Rich Hill is a bet that could go south real quickly. There’s a reason guys don’t kéep pitching at age 43…..and I’m expecting we’ll see mediocrity at its very best, if not worse. But hey, its the Holidays……everyone keep partying lol.

Anthony

I mean, would you rather have Jordan Lyles for 2/$17M?!

goodtymes31

Sure, but there’s also a reason pitchers don’t pitch til 41…or 42…and he was just fine those seasons. He’s not going to throw 200 innings, but 120-140 innings for a 4.00 era improves this team.

1979andCounting

There’s a concept known as being on thin ice. Rich Hill is thin ice.

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

Hill is an outlier because of his curveball usage rates. His curve has kept him in the game.

1979andCounting

Adding the pitch clock isn’t going to help the stress on a 43-year arm either. Like I said, I think we’re in for a very mediocre (hopefully) Hill.

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl
roberto

Every pitcher’s next pitch could be his last pitch.

DangerWilRobnsn

With the retirement of Albert Pujols, Hill is now the oldest active player in MLB.

Danatural08

I watched a good bit of video on Hill after the signing, some observations:

  • he lets out loud grunts on his pitches, especially his fastballs
  • he keeps hitters guessing in the box, several strikeouts with fastballs down the middle, several strikeouts with bad chases
  • he likes to backdoor RH batters which i don’t know why pitchers don’t do more, it’s so freaking hard for a batter not to give up on a pitch that comes out of the pitcher’s hand looking like a no doubt ball, then catches the corner at the las second
  • he varies his delivery to keep batters off balance, as he’ll mix in a quick pitch & sidearm deliveries to keep the batter guessing. This is an effective tactic for pitchers, but you don’t see it often with young pitchers, as they’re taught to perfect & repeat their deliveries to increase accuracy.
AttyMike

There’s time you’ll never get back.

Catch_22

He’s definitely fun to watch…the grunts, the intensity and most importantly, the aesthetically pleasing curve. He’ll get lots of flinches and knees buckling from that pitch.

When I think of Rich Hill, it’s the near perfecto he was twirling at PNC. He made it through 9 perfect innings, then Josh Harrison happened! He became the first player to break up a no-hitter with a walk off homer in extra innings. The perfect game was broken up by an error…I think.

Scam likely

But if Hill is bad ,how long does he stay in the rotation,or the 26 man roster. If their is one thing the pirates did well last year was the starting rotation at the end of the year.So why move 2 guys out who pitch well ,who might not get back in the rotation until June or aug.because you know they are going to get their monies worth out of hill and Vazquez.

NMR

Rich Hill stands out for me as a seminal figure in the Fall of Neal Huntington.

It’s November 2015, we’re all stinging from a second Wild Card defeat but riding high on a wave of success unseen in decades. Peak Searage Magic, Neal-pulling-rabbits, anything-is-possible hysteria.

Anyone familiar with the club knows starting pitching – GOOD starting pitching – was necessary to push the 2016 club to a Division Winner. That #3 arm in the rotation that was missing behind Cole and Liriano.

JA Happ is on everyone’s radar as target #1 , but the competition will be high and cost along with it. Huntington is on a 3-yr run of low-dollar, high-impact acquisitions and there’s damn-near an expectation that he’ll do it again. True to form, the offseason immediately begins with rumors of the Pirates targeting the most intriguing story of 2015, Rich Hill.

Then seemingly before things even got heavy, Huntington lets Hill go to Oakland for just 1 yr and $6m. Two weeks later JA Happ falls to Toronto.

In my world, the alarm bells were blaring. A few weeks after that Neil Walker is dealt for broke-ass Jon Niese, who then is spoken of in the same sense as AJ Burnett and Francisco Liriano without literally any shred of tangible evidence that he can be the next successful reclamation project.

That was it for me. Neal’s mask was off. I wasn’t buying the narrative of trusting and waiting. Sure enough, the rest is history.

Rich Hill, man. What could have been.

PirateRican21

So what you are saying is that BC is better than NH? Am I right?

NMR

Ben inherited a mess, and absolute mess. People, many people, very smart people, have been saying for years Rich Hill is the key making the Pirates great again. low energy Neal couldn’t pull it off, but Ben went and paid more for the 43 year old version. A leader we can all trust to put Pirates First.

Catch_22

You might want to ease up just a bit on the sarcasm.

Wilbur Miller

Didn’t take Texas long to dfa Nick Mears.

Iowasteel

Was it Texas that the Bucs battled for Dragmire back in the day? I say go get Mears back. That will show them.

Wilbur Miller

Huh, I think it was. I’ve been trying to remember that name. The human yo-yo.

goodtymes31

There were two of them right? Dragmire and Jeroloman. Though I think Dragmire’s name makes a better verb than Jeroloman

Iowasteel

Man, good memory. If I recall correctly, it was Toronto who wanted and unwanted Jeroloman.

AttyMike

Hill will amount to acquiring some marginal prospects at the trade deadline for about $4 million. I don’t really understand the purpose of this acquisition beyond that. He certainly has experience but isn’t that what pitching coaches are for??

GlypheNotes

The alternative is to not sign players until some magic point where you know in winter that they will be in contention at the deadline? How do you get better without acquiring better players to win more games?

Also, what’s the cost of signing this player other than some team owner’s money? He’s not taking away important playing time; there’s never enough pitchers for any roster.

AttyMike

There are many more alternatives

GlypheNotes

Would love to hear a few ideas

AttyMike

Sign real players to multi year contracts starting with Reynolds.

jaygray007

Hes contributing to watchable baseball. Can’t that just be the point?

AttyMike

If your standards are real low, then yes.

jeffw3000

I like this signing a lot. Rich Hill, at 43, is still a very consistent pitcher. He always finishes with his WHIP below 1.3, and a lefty like him could do well in PNC. The biggest thing to worry about is can he stay relatively healthy. He has spent a lot of his career on the IL, and at 43, that becomes an even bigger risk.

I think it is sometime missed how much an experienced player can bring to a team, especially a pitcher. In our last rebuild, I feel people do not always realize how important AJ Burnett was to that team. Yes, he was a great pitcher on the field, but off the field, his leadership meant a lot. A pitching coach is not the same as having a peer you can turn to for their experiences as a Big League pitcher. I like Oscar Marin, but in his case, he was never a Big League pitcher, so how can he help with that advice.

AttyMike

People assume that because he’s old, he’ll mentor others. Where’s the evidence of him doing that elsewhere?

pantherfan83

From a nickles perspective, my guess is this was the going rate for any 1 year deals. Anything beyond that price figure put a contact in the 2year/13+million cost. If Hill flops, their is no commitment or money lost beyond this season.

jeffw3000

The price seems high, considering he signed last year for 5 million. It could be a case that the current price, for a 1 year deal is 8 million. If they would have waited maybe they could have gotten him cheaper, but also risk losing him. They may have needed to overpay him, in order to get him to come to the Pirates.

john_fluharty

Likely

b mcferren

what if BC is not even close to done??

he is known to have a few tricks up his sleeve with pulling successful free agent one year deals out of his hat

would we be in the running for the wild card if he signed each of these guys before Feb15?

Cutch, Roberto Perez, Ardolis Chapman, Danny Duffy, Cueto, Jean Segura, Profar and Alex Reyes

bradlej31

Cutch has value as a 4th OF/starter against LHPs. Perez has value as a backup to Hedges. Pass on the clubhouse cancer Chapman, the overrated Profar and the shell of Cueto. Reyes maybe. Segura yes please!

Wilbur Miller

BC in the running

NMR

running? sure. like the 50-yr out of shape dad in the nearest big-city marathon, but sure.

b mcferren

wondering if this is the fallout from the Reynolds fiasco

ie BC has been given a larger 2023 budget and a directive to spend it now

and BC´s approach is spread it amongst a lot of vets who, in the worse case scenario are ready to teach young dudes or in the best scenario ready to catch some 2013 magic

is that list of dudes much different than Victorino, Dempster, Gome, Ross, Drew, Napoli and Uehara ?

bianco599

If Shelton isn’t doing it at least some of the vets can step in and teach them a few things. That’s my hope at least.

Wilbur Miller

Yes

mikeschalke

Hill reminds me of Jamie Moyer who was quite effective well into his 40’s.

jaygray007

Just need to add cutch and then trade suwinski and Brubaker for luzardo now

PirateRican21

I like Luzardo a whole lot!

b mcferren

like

TNBucs

If the signings work as Cherington expects and Hayes, Cruz, Reynolds and Bednar perform like they’re capable of, we should be on the periphery of the pennant race at the trade deadline. So, while I don’t expect this team to be in the race in mid-September, I also don’t assume that we’ll be wanting to trade players of value by the deadline.

bradlej31

I wish I knew what they thought of Castro and Bae. If they view them as Suwinski level prospects I’d have them sign Segura to a deal an opt out with intentions to trade at the deadline.

BUT I think that Bae could be viewed in the cornerstone tier. He gets on base, steals bases and plays a plus 2B and an average CF/SS. He could be a 5 WAR player IMHO. Not sure what BC thinks.

Last edited 1 month ago by bradlej31
b mcferren

still want to add Cueto to teach Roansy, Ortiz and Yerry a thing or two

PirateRican21

Cueto would’ve been a better signing, he was a guy I wanted as well once it became clear that it was gonna be a max one year signing approach once again, but I’m sure the signings are over, if anything else happens it would be a trade or two.

roberto

No one should try to emulate Cueto.

ArkyWags

No one should try to emulate a player who has pitched successfully in the big leagues for over a decade. Who needs that, right?

jaygray007

Given Hills respectable work in 2022, and what other pitchers have been getting, I am shocked that a good team wasn’t willing to match or exceed this offer.

Hes so old that I just always assumed he’d go to a good team. I guess his plan is probably to just pitch well and then get dealt, which is fine!

bradlej31

I think this is a deal that lands him a contract for $15M in ’24. He comes to a SUPER LHP friendly park in a meh division with the best defensive catcher AND 3B in baseball.

Also… the guarantee that if the Pirates aren’t in the playoff race they’ll trade him to a contender probably of his choosing. It’s a no brainer for him.

b mcferren

good analysis

SouthernBuc

I like the signing as I wanted another starter all along. Of the 4 AAA starters listed, only Oviedo could make a real claim that their experience shows them ready for the majors (loved Ortiz’ short showing.. but let’s not go crazy over 4 starts). For now ignoring any real hot starts Oviedo would be a likely candidate if a rotation spot is needed (along with what I am assuming will be a few former starters in the MLB bullpen). I’ve also liked the idea of sending Thompson to AAA as that ‘veteran’ ready to be called up.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to be debating how to make room for a prospect to move up from AAA due to the success of the existing MLB rotation.

Realistically somebody will get hurt (hopefully just the month long type injury) and there will naturally be needs on the MLB team. But at least for this short moment (Velazquez needs to show me something – time will tell), the MLB rotation looks decent.

leefieux

‘This looks like it will be a rotation that grows increasingly younger as the season progresses.’

I sure hope so. It can’t get much older, right? 😙😙

PirateRican21

He is not a sinker ball pitcher, high fastball and curve combo. A combo that many of our young pitchers have/had and now have move to the sinker slider combo. I just hope that he could show some of the staff that is still a good combo, namely Contreras and Ortiz. Contreras fastball is good when is elevated, mediocre when is not, after starting the year working the top of the zone with Perez, he switch to working the bottom with everyone else. As much as I love the sinker, I realized that is not for everyone, I hope Hill reminds some on the staff.

mpg43952

I’m hoping for a lot of fly balls to the warning track in left!

clemo83

How much is left in the tank?

leefieux

As I mentioned to Wilbur yesterday, he’s gonna hit the wall eventually. Hopefully, it is after we send him to some team for Carter Bins the Second.

GrantB

Hey lee, I am curious (if you don’t mind) where you live now? Another post of yours in an earlier thread piqued my interest. (Wanted to message you somehow instead of asking here but don’t see how to do that in this platform)

leefieux

Near Harrisburg, Pa

GrantB

Ah, me too, interesting. Originally near Altoona, college at Pitt, then 25 more years near Altoona, now in Harrisburg since February. I know there are numerous sharers of the ‘CCC’ moniker in different cities, just wondered what the odds were that yours was also mine. 🙂

leefieux

Mine is Christ Community Church.

I am originally from Midland, Beaver County. PSU grad. Got a cushy government job. The rest is history.

GrantB

My wife and I go there too…a wee bit less long than you though, as we just moved to Harrisburg this past spring. Small world 🙂

leefieux

Ummmmm….
I meant that we go to CLA! :):)

skliesen

The Rich Hill, I prefer to call him Dick Mountain, signing has me pretty excited. I love a crafty LHSP. Especially if they’re over 40. Every winning rotation needs one to pitch the day before the hardest throwing RHSP. A 3-game set vs Cardinals with Hill, Ortiz, and Roansy going sounds absolutely incredible to me.

Let’s Go Bucs!

mpg43952

Now you’re making me remember my favorite NASCAR racer, Dick Trickle!

GlypheNotes

Ancient crafty lefty starting pitcher arriving, much older than the rest of the team, does fit like a trope they would include the script about a long-suffering team transforming itself into a contender.

we could workshop it through spring training, but:

Austin Hedges: Jake Taylor (Berenger)
Rich Hill: Eddie Harris (Ross)
Bryan Reynolds: Roger Dorn (Bernsen)
Luis Ortiz: Ricky Vaughn (Sheen)
Endy Rodruguez: Willie Hayes (Snipes)
Oneil Cruz: Pedro Cerrano (Haysbert)

Last edited 1 month ago by GlypheNotes
MD78

Complete with an with an owner who wants to lose to make money…

But a Nutting strip poster would be truly disgusting….

GlypheNotes

If it’s an effective motivation for the team to find success, I’m willing to suffer the pain of seeing Bob in the nude.

leefieux

His issue with me is that he is not an innings eater. He will tax our bullpen.

Zack

It could help if Thompson and Wilson get pushed to bullpen roles. I’d much rather see Ortiz or Oviedo get starts than either of those two.

postal911

That’s baseball now. It feels like most teams keep their starters to 5 innings. I’m not crazy about this considering he’s 43 and his entire career has been IL stints, but it’s better than nothing. There are a few SPs out there that I’d be more interested in, but we have to celebrate anytime Old Bob writes a check.

Catch_22

Quintana also was not an innings eater.

leefieux

Many times that was because of Sheltie’s frustrating quick hook.

bianco599

The Dick Mountain comment made my frigid day. I will forever call him this as well. This signing is def more exciting to me than all the others.

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