When Rich Hill was born, the Pittsburgh Pirates were the defending World Series champions.
Fast forward four decades later and the soon-to-be 43-year-old is now a member of the organization.
The Pirates officially announced the signing of Hill to a one year-contract for the 2023 season on Thursday. He will earn $8M on the deal.
The 18-year major league veteran will now be leaned on to provide meaningful innings and serve as a mentor to a young pitching staff. Hill is up for both tasks.
“Given the opportunity here and with the way the roster is being constructed currently, and what we’re looking forward to coming into this 2023 season is really exciting,” Hill said at PNC Park on Thursday. “I believe that there are a lot of positive things that are happening here.”
Hill brings a lengthy career that has seen plenty of zigs and zags to Western Pennsylvania.
The southpaw made his big league debut with the Cubs in 2005 and quickly became primarily a starting pitcher. He then was used as a reliever before a brief stint in the Independent League in 2015 helped in part to lead Hill to again becoming a starting pitcher.
Since 2015, the veteran Hill has posted a 3.32 ERA, which is ninth-lowest among starting pitchers in the big leagues over that span.
Last year with the Boston Red Sox, Hill went 8-7 with a 4.27 ERA and a sub-four FIP.
Now, the Pirates are counting on Hill to become a key component to their starting five.
“I love playing the game… The intensity and the competitiveness when you get out there to go and play, it’s tough to match anywhere else.”
Not only will the Pirates be counting on Hill to continue his solid track record since his career rejuvenation, but perhaps just as importantly, his veteran presence will be significant.
The Pirates’ pitching staff, and specifically their rotation, leans more towards the young and inexperienced side of things rather than being filled with veterans such as Hill.
“There’s a lot of young, really good arms. Obviously the talent and the ability in this locker room is just as good as any other ballclub you can think of throughout baseball.”
Not only is the current staff young but the Pirates have a handful of pitching prospects, such as Quinn Priester and Mike Burrows, who are getting closer and closer to reaching the big leagues.
Hill is ready to take them under his wing.
“Being able to show how you go about your business proves to some guys, okay this is why he’s still pitching at 43. I think that’s something where anybody has x amount of years on somebody else, is that is the experience that they have to offer that can be gained and advanced for the younger players,” he said.
Hill’s value as a free agent addition to the club is two-fold thanks to his success and experience as a big leaguer.
The former may only help the Bucs for the duration of his one-year deal, but the latter could prove to benefit the club for years to come.
The Pirates employed similar strategies each of the previous two offseasons when they brought in Tyler Anderson and Jose Quintana.
For Hill personally, he realizes father time stops for no one, but he’s not ready to hang them up quite yet.
“I think every day could be (the end). I think that’s why I’m able to go out there and still preform because this could be the last day that you pitch. Focusing in on the task at hand and what we need to do today has been most beneficial to me.”