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.