Arm surgery threatens career of free agent and former Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill

Free agent Rich Hill had surgery on his left arm last month and won't be ready at the start of next season.
Free agent Rich Hill had surgery on his left arm last month and won’t be ready at the start of next season.
(Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

If Rich Hill is going to extend his major league career with the Dodgers or another club, he will have to overcome another obstacle. The left-handed pitcher underwent primary revision surgery last month to repair a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his left arm and will not be ready for the start of next season, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Hill missed nearly three months in 2019 after suffering a flexor tendon strain in June. He re-injured his left knee in his first start back from the injured list, but returned 12 days later and was put on the Dodgers’ postseason roster. He logged 8 1/3 innings across four starts between the regular season and playoffs following the forearm injury. He finished the regular season with a 2.45 earned-run average and 72 strikeouts to 18 walks in 13 starts.

He is a free agent after having his three-year, $48-million contract expired. He turns 40 in March. As the season wound down, he insisted he wanted to continue his career. He said he would welcome a return to Los Angeles, where he spent the last 3 1/2 seasons. Last month’s procedure complicates matters.


Like Tommy John surgery, primary revision surgery is performed to fix a tear in the UCL. It is less intrusive and requires a shorter rehabilitation period, but Hill’s age and injury history — which includes his Tommy John surgery in 2011 — could shrink his market.

Hyun-Jin Ryu, another member of the Dodgers’ 2019 starting rotation, is also a free agent, leaving the Dodgers with two holes in the rotation. They could fill them with in-house options — Julio Urias, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin are among the candidates — or acquire help. Right-handers Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, both Southern California natives, headline this offseason’s free-agent class. Zack Wheeler, another right-hander, is also a high-end option.