As the baseball world descends upon Maryland and the Washington D.C. area for the winter meetings, the Dodgers are apparently getting a head start, nearing a multi-year contract to retain Rich Hill.
Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reported the two sides were "closing in" on a multi-year deal, in the neighborhood of three years, $48 million. Those sentiments were echoed by Andy McCullough of the LA Times, as well as Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports.
Earlier on Saturday, Peter Gammons of MLB Network reported that one team thought Hill had a three-year deal in place with the Dodgers of at least $40 million, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote of rumors that the deal between the Dodgers and Hill was between $46-48 million.
Hill is arguably the best starting pitcher available on what is a remarkably thin free agent market, but he comes with caveats.
For one, he is 37 years old in March and has 610 career innings. He was limited by a groin injury and blisters to 20 starts and 110 innings in 2016, but that represented his highest major league output since 2007.
But when Hill has been on the mound, he has been fantastic. He posted a 2.12 ERA in those 20 starts in 2016, the second-best ERA among all major league pitchers with at least 100 innings. The leader: Clayton Kershaw.
The signing of Hill, if it happens, gives the Dodgers a potential ace-type pitcher — the only one available on this free agent market — without having to commit an ace-type price. Even if Hill has to be handled with care, the Dodgers have the depth to withstand any potential missed time, with the ultimate goal of making sure Hill is ready and available to follow Kershaw in the postseason rotation.