Three years ago today, the A's signed free agent left-hander Rich Hill to a one-year, $6 million deal.
Hill was 35 at the time and hadn't pitched more than 100 innings since 2007, due in large part to injuries. But the veteran pitched brilliantly for the A's in 2016, going 9-3 with a 2.25 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 14 starts.
The A's fell out of contention that year and traded Hill to the Dodgers, along with outfielder Josh Reddick, in exchange for Jharel Cotton, Frankie Montas, and Grant Holmes. Hill finished the 2016 season with a 12-5 record and 2.12 ERA.
Not even Billy Beane could have expected the Hill signing to work out as well as it did. The veteran southpaw found a fountain of youth, finally managing to stay healthy for an entire season. Hill has continued his success in Los Angeles the last two seasons, and even now at the age of 38 is a valuable starter in the Dodgers' rotation.
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Even if the Hill signing hadn't worked out for the A's, it was a low-risk, high-reward move. For just one year and $6 million, it was worth taking a chance, knowing they could always move him at the trade deadline, which they ended up doing anyway.
The A's will again look to add starting pitching this offseason and hope to find another under-the-radar starter like Hill. A one-year contract will be preferred, but even a two-year deal could make sense if the price is right.
Another takeaway from the Hill signing is that sometimes age is just a number. Look at the success Edwin Jackson had in Oakland as a 35-year-old. Since the A's already have a surplus of young pitching talent nearing the Major League level, they really just need a couple of veterans to bring stability to the rotation for the next season or two.
We'll see if Beane and David Forst can work their magic again.