Rich Hill could bring a mountain of talent in trade

Oakland Athletics lefty Rich Hill is among the most highly sought-after pitching trade prospects.

Through the season’s first four months, Hill (9-3, 2.25 ERA) has been the best starter on the Oakland staff. When on the mound, the 36 year-old has been the model of consistency allowing three earned runs twice and never more.

What will cost the A’s (46-55) some value in return for Hill, though, are his age, injury issues — having missed missed starts due to injury — and that he has reached his highest innings pitched total (76) since 2007 (195).

Among Hill’s top pursuers are the AL East leading Baltimore Orioles (58-41), his former team the Boston Red Sox (55-43) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (57-44).

Outside of Chris Tillman (14-3, 3.47 ERA) and Kevin Gausman (10-2, 3.77 ERA), no Baltimore starter has an ERA below 4.98 or more than six wins, yet the team finds itself in the thick of another postseason race. Given their need for a third starter, the Orioles would buy the highest on Hill.

A guy like Chance Sisco (MLB.com’s No. 3 franchise prospect) is a likely target.

The 21-year-old catcher has spent the entire 2016 season with Double-A Bowie, where he has slashed .327/.413/.420. Although his power is limited — two home runs in 83 games this season, and a single-season high of six (2015) — he does feature gap power, collecting 67 doubles and seven triples in 325 career minor league games. Plus, he is a .326 career hitter, and 145 walks push his on-base percentage to .405.

The Dodgers, who are fighting for the NL West title as well as one of the Wild Card spots, found out one week ago that 2014 MVP and three-time CY Young winner Clayton Kershaw may require season-ending surgery.

Whether or not their ace needs surgery may affect the price the LA is willing to pay in exchange for the Oakland hurler. Either way, however, the Dodgers will be in the mix for rotation depth.

Willie Calhoun — .261/.327/.495 slash in 96 games with Double-A Tulsa — is a power-hitting, 21-year-old second baseman that the A’s could target high. Twenty-two-year-old Outfielder Jacob Scavuzzo — .273/.324/.390 slash in 92 games with Double-A Tulsa — is likely a more viable option, however.

Although the Red Sox are in need of a No. 4 starter, it is doubtful that they part ways with on of their top-five prospects. Instead of a Yoan Moncada or Andrew Benintendi, Oakland could go after a guy like Trey Ball — 5-4, 3.79 ERA in 16 games at high-A Salem.

Ball, 22, has a 19-28 record in three minor league seasons, but has whittled down his ERA each season. The 6-foot-6 lefty has some growing to do at just 185 pounds, but, like a Chris Sale (14-3, 3.18 ERA), is able to touch the mid-90’s despite his slender frame.

When Oakland signed Hill in November, they were expecting a veteran anchor in an otherwise young starting staff, who could help guide the team to the postseason. Instead, the A’s could exchange the veteran for another of the young up-and-comers around whom they could build a contender of the future.


Kalama Hines is SFBay’s Oakland Athletics beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @HineSight_2020 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of A’s baseball.