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The Cubs And Rich Hill, Free Agent

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Want to talk outside-the-box? Here's outside-the-planet.

What do you think? Bring this guy back?
What do you think? Bring this guy back?
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Rich Hill. Remember him?

He was the Cubs' fourth-round pick in the 2002 draft and one of the team's rotation starters in 2007 -- a playoff year. Had a very good year, in fact. Posted 3.4 bWAR and started one of the division series games against the Diamondbacks.

Then he messed up his elbow. Bad. He couldn't throw strikes -- walked 18 in 19⅔ innings in five starts in 2008, was pretty much just as bad in the Cubs' minor leagues that year (44 walks in 47⅔ innings, 5.85 ERA) and was sold to the Orioles in February 2009.

Since then he's had an odyssey: Baltimore, Frederick, Norfolk, Pawtucket, Boston, Memphis, Boston again, Pawtucket again, Greenville, Salem, Cleveland, Portland (the East Coast one), Anaheim, New York, Pawtucket again, Scranton, Syracuse and Boston yet again ...

... where he made four starts at the end of 2015 and was nearly unhittable. In 29 innings he allowed 14 hits and five walks (0.655 WHIP), had a 1.55 ERA and 36 strikeouts. That generated 1.6 bWAR. In four games. He had three consecutive starts in which he had 10 or more strikeouts and one or fewer walks. Only one other pitcher in Red Sox history ever did that: some guy named Pedro Martinez.

All right, Hill's no Pedro, and he is 35 years old (will be 36 next March). But man, he was once very, very good for the Cubs; he had a 12-to-6 curveball that would bend hitters' knees. And he was very, very good in those four starts at the end of 2015, and yes it was September baseball but all four teams he threw against have pretty good hitters. He had one start against each of the other A.L. East teams and did a pretty good job against the Blue Jays, the best offensive club in baseball in 2015.

So what do you think? This is a short-term fix and likely wouldn't be very expensive. The team could give him a major-league contract with incentives (number of starts) which would pay him more money if he could stick in the rotation.

And don't forget that Theo Epstein was the GM who signed him in June 2010 for the Red Sox, then signed him again at the end of that season for 2011. He pitched in only a handful of games for Boston in 2010 and 2011, all in relief, but in 12 total innings allowed no runs, had a 1.000 WHIP and 15 strikeouts. Could be the Cubs are already interested, based on this:

Worth a shot?