Washington Nationals: Rich Hill slipped through the fingers years ago

Rich Hill is back on the market, the Washington Nationals had him once and let him slip away. Will they go after him again?

One of the better lines in the movie Major League is when the general manager and manager are discussing the players as they arrive during spring training. The following exchange takes place:

Manager Lou Brown: “He was an All-Star in Boston, wasn’t he?”
GM Charlie Donovan: “Yeah, wound up in the Mexican League. Had problems with his knees.”
Pitching coach Pepper Leach: “Wish we had him two years ago.”
Donovan: “We did.”
Leach: “Four years ago, then.”

I think this line applies to Rich Hill were the Washington Nationals to pursue his services this offseason. Rich Hill is a free agent and looking to latch on with someone for the 2021 season. He’ll also turn 41 years-old prior to opening day.

No, I don’t recommend the Nationals to go after him, though they did have him five years ago, and let him go.

Hill had pitched for six teams over the course of ten years, with middling success as a reliever, when the Nationals signed him to a minor league contract in late February of 2015. He spent nearly four months at Triple-A Syracuse where he pitched in 25 games with an ERA of 2.91. Solid numbers, though there was no place on the big league roster for him so he was released.

After finishing the year with the Boston Red Sox, Hill signed with the Oakland A’s and went 9-3 with a 2.25 ERA in 14 starts. In the time since the Nationals cut him, Hill has won over 40 games during the regular season. He has also pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers in two World Series, going 6.1 in his 2018 appearance, allowing just one hit.

Hill spent the 2020 season with the Minnesota Twins and in eight starts had a 3.03 earned run average. He can still pitch. Someone will take a flier on him, it just shouldn’t be the Nationals. If it is, they’ll just wish they had him five years ago. Oh, wait, they did.