Discussions surrounding starting pitcher Rich Hill’s future with the Oakland Athletics took an intriguing turn in the final 24 hours as the club ponders how to handle the lefty. With other teams possibly concerned that Hill won’t make a start before the trade deadline after a long layoff due to a blister, might the A’s try to extend Hill instead?
Sources: #Athletics talking to Rich Hill about a contract extension. Trade discussions continuing as well.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 31, 2016
Hill is scheduled to return Friday, manager Bob Melvin told the beat writers before Sunday’s game, but the A’s have been hopeful of Hill’s recovery from injuries before —including when they started him on July 17 only to have to remove him when the blister popped before he could even record a result against his first batter.
Teams are nervous enough that it sounds like the A’s are having to tell teams they won’t make deals conditioned on how many days Hill spends on the disabled list:
Source: #Athletics will not do conditional deal for Rich Hill. Take him as is, or not.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 31, 2016
Teams can accomplish this by using the old “player to be named or cash” standby:
@grade_eh_tweets "if he makes 10 starts you get player X. If he makes 4 starts you get player Y."— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) July 31, 2016
The injuries have even led some to question, including the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser, whether the A’s would even offer Hill a qualifying offer if he was held to the end of the season. If that’s the case, now could be an ideal time to start to engage Hill on whether he wants the security of another year weighed against the risk that further injury could exacerbate concerns that he has not pitched 100 innings in a season since 2010.
If you’re wondering about an extension for Josh Reddick, it’s a different story for him because the impasse is over the number of years Reddick merits as well as on the odds that Reddick will be traded, not how much Hill should earn just next year. If Reddick is traded, he won’t have his free agent value hampered by the compensation for signing a player who was given a qualifying offer. If Hill is traded, he might not get a $17 million one-year deal, anyway.
Even with durability concerns surrounding Hill, it’s not like there are a lack of teams considering him:
Sources: Teams known to have at least discussed Rich Hill with #Athletics: #Dodgers, #BlueJays, #Rangers, #Astros, #Pirates.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 31, 2016
That this rumor comes just before the non-waiver trade deadline indicates that the offers from all of them just aren’t where the A’s want them to be, compared to the chance of retaining Hill for 2017.
Twenty-one hours to go.