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Phil Hughes gets $3.2 million from Yankees, avoids arbitration

Jan 16, 2012, 12:48 PM EDT

hughes throws getty Getty Images

Phil Hughes and the Yankees have agreed to a one-year deal worth $3.2 million, avoiding arbitration.

Hughes had a disappointing 2011, as injuries limited him to just 75 innings and he posted a 5.79 ERA, but he made $2.7 million and would have been in line for a decent-sized raise if the two sides went to a hearing.

His role for this season isn’t entirely clear after the Yankees traded for Michael Pineda and signed Hiroki Kuroda, because one of Hughes, Freddy Garcia, or A.J. Burnett will seemingly have to be the odd man out in the rotation.

Hughes has bullpen experience, spending most of 2009 as a reliever with lots of success, and taking him out of the rotation–at least initially–could also be a way to avoid doubling his workload following back problems and arm fatigue.

  1. proudlycanadian - Jan 16, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    Something does not make sense to me. His ERA rose to 5.79 and he go a raise??????

    He deserved a cut in pay, not a raise.

    • uyf1950 - Jan 16, 2012 at 1:08 PM

      Go figure. That’s the way MLB operates. It rewards mediocrity.

      • jwbiii - Jan 17, 2012 at 12:00 AM

        The Yankees had a choice. They could have non-tendered him.

    • sfbookreviews - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:31 AM

      Arbitration is a crapshoot. Two years ago, Ross Ohlendorf went 1-11 with a 4.07 ERA and made $439,000.

      The Bucs offered $1.4 million and Ross asked for just over $2 million. Ross won. A million dollar raise just wasn’t enough according to the arbitrator. Ross deserved $1.6 million more.

  2. RickyB - Jan 16, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    I believe you mean two of Hughes, Garcia and Burnett will seemingly have to be the odd men out, what with Nova in the rotation as well … My bet is Hughes goes back to the bullpen. And injuries will sort out the rest of the rotation more than likely.

    • uyf1950 - Jan 16, 2012 at 1:14 PM

      My guess is the Yankees have decided to go with a 7 man starting rotation to begin the 2012 season (CC, Pineda, Kuroda, Nova, Hughes. Garcia and AJ). Just kidding obviously.

      On the serious side. I honestly think AJ gets traded with the Yankees eating about 50% plus or minus of his total remaining salary of $33MM. Hughes will be given every opportunity to land the 5th starting spot in spring training. If he does well it’s his and Garcia moves to the pen if not it’s Garcia’s and Hughes moves to the pen. Or let’s say that what I hope happens.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 16, 2012 at 1:26 PM

        Mentioned it in another thread, but there’s no reason to trade anyone unless you want to shed some of AJ’s salary. At some point one of the pitchers will get injured, and you’ll need a replacement. Why deal from a position of strength when it’s almost foretold this will happen.

        Rumor is Hughes has an option left. Send him back to AAA and keep him throwing as a starter. Figure out something between AJ/Garcia, but no reason to deal one now. Look at the Sox last year. They all these starters waiting and then the injury bug hit.

      • marinersnate - Jan 16, 2012 at 1:32 PM

        “I honestly think AJ gets traded with the Yankees eating about 50% plus or minus of his total remaining salary of $33MM.”

        I think it would take much more than that. I do not see any GM out there taking AJ off the Yankees hands and than also paying him $8M+ a year, for two years. Cashman may just end up eating 80%-85% of that money if he really wants to move him.

      • uyf1950 - Jan 16, 2012 at 2:10 PM

        Church – big difference between the Yankees this year now and the Red Sox. Is the Yankees still have at least 2 maybe 3 guys from Triple A that are ready to step in if needed at the big league level for insurance (Phelps/Warren/Mitchell). Either as starters or bullpen help.

        So trading AJ wouldn’t put a hardship on the Yankees if they needed insurance during the season. That wasn’t and isn’t the case with the Red Sox. They didn’t have and don’t have the depth at that position just to be able to call someone up.

        At least that’s my opinion.

      • bigharold - Jan 16, 2012 at 2:33 PM

        I’m with Church on this one. If Hughes has an option left let him begin the season in Scranton as a starter. It would seem to be closing in on make or break time to see if Hughes is the starter that he’s been projected as or just a decent starer/relief pitcher. At 25 it’s too early to give up on him but it’s just about the right tome top force the issue.

        I think eating the amount of salary that it would take to move Burnett isn’t likely even for the Yankees. One thing to consider is that it’s possible that Hughes the trade chip here and not Burnett. He’s be far easier to move and would actually get something for in return.

      • uyf1950 - Jan 16, 2012 at 2:49 PM

        bigharold – possible both you and church are right. I’m only going what on what’s kind of been said and implied.

        Cashman has already said he wants to give Hughes the best shot at making the starting rotation. Cashman has also danced around the issue with AJ every time someone brings up the Yankees looking at trading him. It just seems to me and I may be totally off base. But where there is smoke there’s fire and in AJ’s case there sure is a lot of smoke.

        Just here me out for a minute. And listen to this proposal. Not that it will happen just one of many things that can happen.
        There has been talk of the Yankees checking out Carlos Pena. What if the Yankees ate say 60% of AJ’s remaining salary that comes to $20MM. That would leave the acquiring team with $13MM of his salary for 2 years ($6.5MM per). So the Yankees still have $20MM of his payroll on the books $10MM per for 2 years. The Yankees could conceivably offer Pena a 2 year deal at about $6.5MM per and not have it have any effect on the overall Yankees payroll for 2012 and 2013. For payroll/MLB luxury tax issues it’s like nothing ever happened. Expect the Yankees trade AJ for Pena for 2 years. That’s just an example there are way to mitigate the effect of eating AJ’s salary.

        BTW, AJ is very serviceable to a team at $6.5MM for just 2 years. Especially a NL Team.

      • bigharold - Jan 16, 2012 at 3:39 PM

        “BTW, AJ is very serviceable to a team at $6.5MM for just 2 years. Especially a NL Team.”

        Your numbers work and I’ve considered the same strategy if a Pena level DH is what your’re looking for, (I think he’s the best one available due to power, OBP and the ability to play defense). But, they could just as easily trade Hughes, get something of real value for him, take 7-8 mil that you would pay Hughes this year and next add that to 1-2 that he Yankees have left for the DH slot and still get a decent DH. Remember, A-Rod and Jeter look to be filling in as DH about a third of the time so you neither need or want the top dollar DH. Ideally they need a lefty hitter that can platoon the DH spot with Jones like Chavez.

        Here’s an idea; trade AJ for Adam Dunn, get some money from the WS and platoon Dunn and Jones at DH the days A-Rod and Jeter aren’t there. They get money, reduce salary cap and worry about 2014 in 2014. And, if Dunn actually bounces back, in Yankee Stadium were looking at 40-50 HRs a year.

      • uyf1950 - Jan 16, 2012 at 4:02 PM

        bigharold – I could work with your last post until you got to the part about Adam Dunn. No way, no how do I want him;

        I like the premise is this link a whole lot better.

        http://kansascity.sbnation.com/kansas-city-royals/2012/1/15/2709464/mlb-rumors-yankees-royals-trade-could-involve-billy-butler-for-phil

      • bigharold - Jan 16, 2012 at 6:04 PM

        Butler would be an interesting option but he’s more than twice as expensive as Hughes, .. and that’s if Hughes does real well this year and gets a big raise. If the reports are correct regarding the Yankees self imposed limits than they would have to trade Burnett to free up the salary AND Hughes to get Butler.

      • uyf1950 - Jan 16, 2012 at 7:15 PM

        bigharold – I think you got your numbers wrong on Butler. He’s due $8MM per for the next 3 years 2012/2014.
        Let’s just take it 1 year at a time.

        2012 – Butler’s due $8MM / Hughes just signed for $3.2MM. Assume a straight up trade just for ease of comparison. The comment says the Yankees have about $2MM still in the budget to spend before this. That’s Hughes’s $3.2MM plus the $2MM give the Yankees $5.2MM. Butler cost $8MM. The Yankees would only need to increase their budget by $2.7MM more to make up the money to sign Butler. On top of what is being said they still have to spend.

        2013 – Butler is still just due $8MM. So assuming that they Yankees never traded Hughes in the first place he would be making $4.2MM in 2013. Now instead of having $2MM left over to spend as they did in 2012 they only have $1MM because Hughes got a raise of $1MM. The Yankees still only have to increase that initial budget by $2.7MM. The benefit though is Rivera probably comes off the books retiring ($15MM saving). Swisher is a FA so he probably won’t be re-newed ($10MM plus). Kuroda comes off the books ($10MM). Garcia comes off the books ($4MM plus when incentives are included). And Martin probably comes off the books ($6.5MM). Rivera will be replace by in house player (Robertson). Garcia will be replaced by in house prospect. Martin will probably be replaced by in house prospect (Romine). The Yankees sign a low cost player to replace Swisher.

        So the Yankees have at least $45MM plus coming off the books and all but Kuroda will be replaced by in house Yankees already at a nominal cost. So say of that $45MM at least $40MM is available to sign players. The only player the Yankees have to replace is Kuroda with that $40MM. They sign one of the 2 premier FA’s of the 2013 class. Say Hamels for $22MM That still leaves the Yankees with $18MM that they have not spent.

        Now I realize this is probably confusing, but the net effect is the Yankees can make a trade for Butler now giving up Hughes and still have their 2013 be about at least $15 to $18MM less than what their 2012 budget would be after the trade. Now some of that $15 to $18MM will be eaten up by arbitration awards to players eligible but their 2013 budget will still be lower, period.

        I apologize if this is confusing, but if it is you will just have to take my word for it that the Yankees budget works out this way. And is certainly NOT negatively effected by a Hughes for Butler trade.

    • proudlycanadian - Jan 16, 2012 at 1:15 PM

      He pitched primarily in the pen in 2009 and had a 3.03 ERA that year.

      • uyf1950 - Jan 16, 2012 at 1:20 PM

        That’s true. He served primarily as Mo’s set up man that year.

  3. henryd3rd - Jan 16, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    This signing is a direct response to the Sox signing of Vicente Padilla. I feel such a sense of relief knowing we have Hughes signed for this year. I wonder how Bobby Valentine must be feeling right about now? No reliever, weak pitching staff and a front office that can’t get out of it’s own way. Where is Sox President Larry Lucchino when we really need him? Or is his main claim to fame that classic nickname he penned for the hated Yankees “Evil Empire” and getting rid of Theo?

  4. randygnyc - Jan 16, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    Adam Dunn has no skills left. Rather than trading Hughes, a still promising young arm, for a broke down hitter with detrimental defensive abilities is not now, nor will ever be a consideration. The Yankees would rather keep the DH spot empty and take an out every time in the order than make that trade.

  5. jwbiii - Jan 16, 2012 at 7:12 PM

    Unrelated, but as long as there a Yankee pitcher thread here. . . In the Pineda trade, the Yankees also picked up a A- pitcher named Jose Campos. I have nothing much to say about him that you can’t find somewhere else, but check the Everett AquaSox uniform
    http://www.baseballamerica.com/images/jcampos11428309lg.jpg

  6. randygnyc - Jan 17, 2012 at 12:40 AM

    Hughes is only 1 year removed since his 18 game winning season. He came into the 2011 season overweight and in poor shape. That can be fixed.

    If a FA hit the market with compatible circumstances, that price tag could easily be 6-7 million. At 3.2 million, this becomes a very inexpensive flier.I’d consider him untouchable for a trade except for something ridiculously one sided for the Yankees, like a salary dump to land someone like lincecum, carpenter or a king Felix.

  7. stex52 - Jan 17, 2012 at 8:41 AM

    I really don’t mean to be too offensive, but this is a blog and all. You Yankees fans are sure big on dream trade scenarios that assume the GM for the other side is an idiot.

    Not that I would mind if it worked out for my team, too.

  8. bozosforall - Jan 17, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    Hughes would be more valuable to the Yankees in long relief. Let AJ be the #5, where he can hurt the team the least with his inconsistency. Plus, it gives him a better chance of winning against other teams’ #5’s. I’d go: CC, Pineda, Nova, Kuroda, then AJ (or Garcia). Nice to have so many options (unlike the idiot team to the north).

    • millybo - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:13 PM

      My preference would be to see a rotation of CC, Nova, Pineda, Hughes and kuroda. It might be good if AJ decides to retire and save the yankees some money.

  9. millybo - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    I realize we have been discussing starting pitching but i am currently more concerned about a closer. Mo is still the best but at his age we ought not to expect this to continue for much longer. I also do not think we will see a gradual decline. My fear is that it will come suddenly and the Yankees will be caught off guard. Who is the projected replacement at this point in time or will the free agent market be the solution?

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