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Quick Hits: Red Sox, Hill, Twins, Cruz, Rockies, Black

Rich Hill has already emphatically stated that he’ll be back for 2022, a season in which he’ll be 42 years old. But would the Red Sox be interested in a reunion with the Massachusetts native? “There is an interest, without a doubt,” Hill told Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. “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 need it.”

The lefty is certainly correct about the demand throughout the league, as starting pitchers have been flying off the shelves so far this offseason. In just over three weeks since free agency began, Eduardo Rodriguez, Justin Verlander, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Anthony DeSclafani and Andrew Heaney have all been inked already, with Alex Wood reportedly close to signing as well. Despite his age, Hill figures to garner lots of interest as well, given his solid 2021 campaign. His tally of 158 2/3 innings was the second-highest of his career, trailing only the 195 innings he logged as a 27-year-old in 2007. Between the Rays and Mets last year, he put up an ERA of 3.86 with a strikeout rate of 22.7% and walk rate of 8.3%, producing 1.7 fWAR in the process.

The Red Sox have already lost Eduardo Rodriguez to the Tigers, leaving them with a rotation of Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Sale, Nick Pivetta and Tanner Houck, with Connor Seabold, Kutter Crawford and Garrett Whitlock among the options for the back end. There’d certainly be room to add Hill into the mix, though whether they prefer Hill to some other options on the market remains to be seen.

More tidbits from around the league…

  • After an excellent 258-game stretch with the Twins over three different seasons, Nelson Cruz was traded to the Rays before last year’s deadline. Although the club isn’t completely ruling out a reunion, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be the top of their to-do list this winter. Dan Hayes of The Athletic spoke to GM Thad Levine about the situation. “In a most ideal case, when you’re building a roster you would like to have a DH spot as an open position to rotate guys through and give them a partial day of rest,” he said. “We have chosen to go a different route in each of the last couple seasons because we felt we had an elite DH.” As noted by Hayes, the club is going to be primarily focused on pitching for now, which makes sense given that they’ve lost Jose Berrios to trade, Michael Pineda to free agency and Kenta Maeda to Tommy John surgery. Cruz also struggled after being traded to the Rays, hitting .226/.283/.442, for a wRC+ of 96, raising questions about how productive he will be as a 41-year-old in 2022. But Levine still left the door open a crack, saying they “want to keep the DH spot open to allow for a bunch of players to rotate through that position, unless something exceptional comes our way, at which point we’d have to review it.”
  • Bud Black is heading into his sixth season as the skipper of the Rockies, which is also the final year of his current contract. In a recent mailbag, Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post says he heard that extension talks were ongoing, but that he “checked that out with general manager Bill Schmidt, who told me that wasn’t true. Schmidt added, however, that talks with Black are certainly possible in the coming months.” Schmidt was the VP of scouting with the Rockies from 2007 until May of 2021. At that point, he was named interim GM, in the wake of the resignation of Jeff Bridich, before officially getting the job last month. As he enters his first offseason in the GM chair, it’s unclear whether he considers Black to be part of the future he envisions for the franchise. Black, 64, has a record of 349-359 in his time with the Rockies and an overall record of 998-1072 when combined with his nine seasons with the Padres.

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