At the ripe age of 43, left-handed veteran Rich Hill will toe the slab as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2023 - meaning the Cubs, the team that drafted him back in the fourth round of the 2002 MLB Draft could get a look at the southpaw at some point this season.
Joining the Pirates on a one-year, $8 million deal, Hill will head to Bradenton in the spring to kick off a 19th big league season with his 11th club. Of those 11 teams, he spent more time than he did in Chicago only in Boston, his most recent stop, where he pitched for five seasons, spanning four separate stops in his career.
Cubs: Rich Hill has battled plenty of adversity in his lengthy career
In 2022, Hill made 26 starts for the Red Sox, working to a 3.92 FIP and 1.303 WHIP in 124 1/3 innings of work. He'll join a Pirates club that certainly boasts some nice young pieces, but is still widely regarded as one of the Senior Circuit's punching bags.
But, given his place in semi-recent Cubs history, I figured it's worth taking a little trip down memory lane and re-visiting the early years of Hill's career that were spent on the North Side. His major league debut came on June 15, 2005 in a blowout loss against the then-Florida Marlins.
The second man out of the pen in relief of future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, Hill tossed one inning, striking out two and allowing a pair of runs on three hits. Who would've thought that relief appearance would be the start of a nearly-two decade run in the bigs?
Hill never really panned out in Chicago, if we're being totally honest. His 2007 season was, by far, his most impressive stretch with the Cubs, racking up 195 innings over 32 starts and working to a 118 ERA+. But injuries and mechanical inconsistencies proved costly and, ahead of the 2009 season, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles.
Regardless of the fact he last pitched for the North Siders nearly 15 years ago, it's great to see one of the game's good guys keeping it going, even at his age. He's never won a World Series or even made an All-Star team, but he's found a way to keep bringing value to clubs across the league - and now he'll look to do it in a return to the NL Central in 2023.