With Major League Baseball’s clock ticking towards a midnight lockout by owners and a resulting transaction freeze, the Red Sox continued to bolster their rotation. The team reached agreement with lefthander Rich Hill on a one-year deal it announced in the minutes before Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement expired at 11:59 p.m.
According to a major league source, Hill will receive a $5 million base salary with innings-based bonuses that could push the value of the deal to $8 million. He’ll receive $250,000 for reaching 110 and 120 innings; an additional $500,000 for reaching 130 and 140 innings; and $750,000 for reaching 150 and 160 innings.
Hill, 41, made 31 starts and logged 158⅔ innings for the Rays and Mets last season, his largest workload since 2007. He went 7-8 with a 3.86 ERA, a 22.7 percent strikeout rate, and an 8.3 percent walk rate, continuing a mid-career rebirth as a starter that commenced shortly after the Red Sox signed Hill out of the independent Atlantic League in 2015.
This marks the seventh time that Hill has reached a free-agent agreement with the Red Sox. Last month, he made clear that as he prepared for an 18th big league season, the opportunity to return to the Sox (and continue his career while living at home in Milton) had considerable appeal.
“[The Red Sox] do things right. I’ve been around 14 organizations. … If I tell you that they’re in the upper echelon [of franchises], they’re doing pretty good,” said Hill. “There is an interest [in the Red Sox], without a doubt. … There’s a need on the other end. [But] the need for starting pitching is very apparent throughout the league — not just in Boston. It’s also many other clubs that that need it.”
In the end, however, it was the Sox who offered the right fit for Hill, who joins Michael Wacha and James Paxton — recovering from Tommy John surgery and likely out until after the All-Star break — as rotation reinforcements signed to one-year deals for 2022.
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Righthanded reliever Michael Feliz, who pitched 5⅓ innings in four games for the Red Sox during their COVID-19 outbreak in late August and early September, signed a minor league deal with the club. The deal includes an invitation to big league camp. Feliz allowed two runs while striking out five and walking one before being claimed off waivers by the A’s — one of four teams for whom the 28-year-old pitched last year.