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Indians Sign Rich Hill To Minor-League Deal

The former Red Sox reliever is now with Cleveland, in the hopes of getting his career back on track

Jared Wickerham

Rich Hill, like Scott Atchison, had a lot of promise for the Red Sox. The problem was, also like Atchison, concerns about Hill's health meant he was more expendable than the front office might have liked on a crowded roster with an already overloaded bullpen. Both players ended up off of the 40-man roster and became free agents, with Atchison heading to the Mets on a minor-league deal, and Hill reuniting with former manager Terry Francona in Cleveland.

The Indians signed the former starting pitcher Hill to a minor-league deal, giving the left-handed a non-roster invite to spring training. If he's healthy, he should be productive. Over parts of three years with the Red Sox, Hill produced a 1.14 ERA with 2.4 times as many strikeouts as walks. The issue was that Hill threw just over 30 innings in those three parts of seasons, thanks in large part to injuries. After eight frames in 2011, Hill underwent Tommy John surgery, and between rehab and a further elbow problem in 2012, he was only able to pitch another 19 innings. He spent much more time in the minors with the Red Sox, first as relief depth and then working his way back to the majors from injury, and punched out 176 batters in 147 innings, against 74 walks (2.4 K/BB) in the process.

There's hope here that Hill can be a dominating left-handed one out guy -- a LOOGY, if you will -- if nothing else. On a minor-league deal with a non-roster invite, the Indians will find out on the cheap. Unlike the Red Sox, they might have the roster space to do this, given their bullpen isn't as deep as Boston's: even without Hill, the Red Sox are still debating over four pitchers for the last spot in the pen, and that's without getting into the Triple-A options that otherwise would be part of the competition.