If the New York Yankees ink Rich Hill, the will gain the top starting pitcher on the market by relinquishing nothing more than cash.
Immediate fan reactions will head in either direction, approving the attempt to land a frontline starter or dismissing the efforts because of the so-called “youth movement.”
While the lefty slinger, who was flat-out dominant in 2016, may not be the perfect answer for the upcoming years, he is the only answer, particularly if Brian Cashman wants to contend in the process of keeping New York’s positive direction intact.
The age? Not enticing. His journeyman track record? Not so appealing. The number of answers he provides? Plentiful.
Like it or not, the Yankees do not have a winning formula in their starting rotation, and answers do not seem to be magically appearing — nor should they.
Masahiro Tanaka is the only stabilizing force, yet one more stellar campaign may find him in a different uniform. CC Sabathia had one darn impressive comeback campaign, but his durability remains up in the air. Michael Pineda has the capability of running off ace-like stretches, but his massive blips outweigh those slight glimpses of hope. Perhaps most importantly, Luis Severino has not turned into the force the organization envisioned.
However, the current manner in which the rotation is aligned spells trouble, and Hill is the only glaring answer.
The 6-foot-5, 220 pound left-hander would slide behind Tanaka in 2017, creating a dynamic 1-2 punch at the top while effectively relieving pressure from the less capable arms.
Sabathia, who has finally figured out an identity, which entails working the corners and relying on superb movement, would move into a more comfortable number three slot. Pineda and his frequent peaks and mishaps would provide a low-risk, high-reward number four starter.
Lastly, Severino would be relieved of all expectations as the number five, potentially regaining form and rounding out a much more fortified rotation.
The variance between right-handers and left-handers, flamethrowers and crafty corner-painters would be significant.
Not to mention Hill, who appears to have more than enough left in the tank. If his 20 start, 12-5, 2.12 ERA, 110.1 inning, 77 hit, 33 walk, 129 strikeout 2016 performance did not prove as much, his repertoire and poise should.
Possessing one of the most unique deliveries in baseball, the sidewinding lefty has no trouble keeping hitters off balance, something the Yankees should value with their current all-too predictable rotation.
Hill’s ability to power his fastball into particular spots and locate his devastating curveball is exactly why his late-career success has come as a top starter.
It goes without saying that his success would be able to translate back to the American League. In 2016, he posted a 9-3 record with a 2.25 ERA in 14 starts with the A’s prior to being traded to the Dodgers.
The best part? He will likely come at a bargain, at least comparative to what he could be earning if his recent success was extended over five years.
Hill will likely earn a deal in the range of what J.A. Happ — three years, $36 million with Toronto — agreed to last offseason.
If the Yankees can pull him away for just two years, quite possibly with a couple more million attached, they will receive one of the top starters in all of baseball to aid the push for glory in 2017 and 2018, rather than merely down the road.
Anyone can actively try to come up with feasible solutions, but, odds are, the Yankees will have to dismantle their top farm system to complete the deal.
Rich Hill comes with no strings attached, only in search of the money New York has cleared away. In being the safest option, he is also the best option.
A new, more promising, narrative can be written in 2017 if the veteran is sporting pinstripes on April 10 against Tampa.