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Report: Twins sign Phil Hughes for $24 million over three years

Nov 30, 2013, 11:13 PM EDT

Phil Hughes Getty Images

Phil Hughes will join Ricky Nolasco in a rebuilt Twins rotation, according to La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, agreeing to a three-year, $24 million contract on Saturday.

Hughes, the winter’s youngest free agent at age 27, is coming off a rough season in which he went 4-14 with a 5.19 ERA in 29 starts and one relief appearance for the Yankees. Getting out of Yankee Stadium and it’s shallow right field porch should do him a whole lot of good, though it’s not like he’s been any sort of ace on the road, either.

The curious thing is that Hughes held out for the longer deal rather than going the Josh Johnson route and signing a one-year contract, with the chance of landing a much bigger payday next winter. Certainly, if he had bounced back and turned in a season more like his 2012, he could have been in a position to land the kind of four-year, $49 million deal that Nolasco just got or something bigger. Frankly, it suggests a lack of confidence that he’d rather have the much more modest three-year deal right now.

With Hughes and Nolasco in the fold, the Twins have clearly upgraded what was the league’s ugliest rotation last season. Kevin Correia will be back to occupy another spot, with Samuel Deduno a heavy favorite to join him. The team still has to decide whether to bring in another veteran or to let Kyle Gibson, Vance Worley, Andrew Albers and Scott Diamond compete for the fifth spot.

  1. southofheaven81 - Nov 30, 2013 at 11:17 PM

    The hell?!

    • pjmarn6 - Dec 1, 2013 at 2:58 PM

      Finally some people are questioning the ridiculous salary ball players are getting. All players should get incentive one year contracts. No results, little pay.

      • southofheaven81 - Dec 1, 2013 at 3:43 PM

        I don’t mind when someone gets a ridiculous salary when they actually produce. But this is insane.

      • American of African Descent - Dec 1, 2013 at 3:50 PM

        So long as you apply that to players in their first five years when, statistically, they are underpaid.

  2. bigharold - Nov 30, 2013 at 11:25 PM

    Hail and fare well Phil!

    • proudlycanadian - Dec 1, 2013 at 8:38 AM

      Still no story linking Joba to the Twins, but speculation is growing that they will sign AJP to catch.

  3. boyofzimmer - Nov 30, 2013 at 11:36 PM

    Wow! $24 million and this article suggests that he should’ve taken a one year deal to make good. I hope in my next life I return as a ballplayer!

  4. missingdiz - Nov 30, 2013 at 11:38 PM

    5.19? I don’t have anything against the Twins. They’re their own worst enemy. A guy has a very bad season. It’s questionable if he belongs in the majors. So give him a 3-year contract worth enough that he can live on comfortably, no matter how he performs, the rest of his life? This is crazy. I love the game, but the “business” is completely berserk.

    • chill1184 - Dec 1, 2013 at 12:13 AM

      Whats berserk about it? This is the market playing out. Plus I believe the he’ll perform better in the significantly bigger Target Field as opposed to Yankee Stadium

    • byjiminy - Dec 1, 2013 at 12:44 AM

      I’d rather pay 15 million for a guy coming off a bad year than 49 million for a guy coming off a good year. This is what it costs to hire pitchers, and when you have the worst starting rotation in the league, you’ve got to take some chances. Both Hughes and Nolasco at least have some upside.

      I’d much rather watch Hughes and Nolasco than Diamond, Walters, Hendricks, De Vries, and Albers. They’ve got plenty of money now from their new stadium. What were they supposed to do, pocket it, like the last three years? This is what was available, and they’re better than before. They have a long ways to go before they’ll compete with the Tigers, but you have to start somewhere. With prospects like Buxton, Arcia and Meyer, there’s hope for the future, but only if they surround them with MLB level teammates. And this is a start, a legitimate start.

      Considering that most of those losses were in Yankee Stadium, with its short right porch, and the Twins play in a homer-suppressing park, and that Hughes’s upside was considered much higher before his career was derailed by injuries, there’s at least a chance that this will look like a very good deal in three years, which is more than you could say with previous long-term contracts to players like Nick Blackburn.

      • byjiminy - Dec 1, 2013 at 1:07 AM

        Oops, that should be 24M not 15M — sorry

      • mikhelb - Dec 1, 2013 at 2:48 AM

        I hope his new pitching coach can teach him how and when to throw a curveball because the guy has a good enough fastball so as to gain advantage most of the time against a batter but ends up losing said advantage because his “junk” pitches have no bite in them.

        He needs to be more agressive, gain the confidence to throw offspeed pitches and overall a better pitching coach (pitching coaches and managers in recent history of the Yanks have failed to develop pitchers).

        His lifetime numbers out of Yankee Stadium are awful too (4.10 ERA, 4.35 xFIP), and it might be because lifetime away from Yankee Stadium he doesn’t induce a lot of ground balls (34.1%, well below league average) and instead has a high percentage of flyballs (45.2%), which even if the rate of HRs per flyballs is very good compared to the MLB average, that 10-11% more of flyballs ends up compensating for his lower HR/FB rate.

        His numbers in Yankee Stadium III are similar, with a 47.8% of flyballs, a 32.5% of groundballs.

        And then of course, the fact that RHB and LHB who pull the ball give him a hell of a time.

      • yahmule - Dec 1, 2013 at 11:07 AM

        Ah, the standard you’re setting is Nick Blackburn, as opposed to, say, a major league caliber pitcher.

        Ridiculous.

        Hughes is coming off a bad year because he’s a bad pitcher. It works that way, generally speaking.

      • ctony1216 - Dec 1, 2013 at 11:08 AM

        Hughes could really use a two-seam fastball — something with some downward motion to it. If he could just keep the ball down in the zone and get more groundball outs, he could win 15 games a year. He couldn’t do it with the Yankees; maybe the Twins can help him figure it out.

    • southofheaven81 - Dec 1, 2013 at 5:54 AM

      Man, I wish I could be horrible at my job for a few years & get a new job for $8 million a year.

    • pjmarn6 - Dec 1, 2013 at 3:01 PM

      Jesus! After federal taxes he has $14.4 million! Wisely invested at 6% in dividend stocks and he pays almost no taxes on over $860,000 a year.
      A new Warren Buffet.

  5. aphillieated - Nov 30, 2013 at 11:43 PM

    RIP Paul Walker :'(

  6. weaselpuppy - Nov 30, 2013 at 11:49 PM

    I hear there is a 5th starter convention in Minneapolis. 4th OF convention too.

    95-100 more losses, just more expensively

    • byjiminy - Dec 1, 2013 at 12:52 AM

      Perahps, but the consensus number one prospect in the entire minor leagues, Byron Buxton, is an outfielder, and Alex Meyer is a top ten pitching prospect. Even without them, they now have a very realistic shot 90 losses. Perhaps even fewer. With a couple more signings, and some injuries to the Tigers, they could contend. This is the AL Central we’re talking about. Go Twins!

      • weaselpuppy - Dec 1, 2013 at 2:30 AM

        They have no shot at contending. The pitching staff is terrible, the closer gone, the only power hitter coming off a terrible year, the $24M slap hitter moved off his best defensive position amid a cast of 240 hitting role players manning the rest of the infield. They have a better chance of losing 110 than winning 81. Buxton and Sano still at least a year away, Hicks can’t put the bat on the ball…wow, that is an ugly ugly team.

      • dan1111 - Dec 1, 2013 at 3:01 AM

        Mauer is one of the game’s best players; calling him a “slap hitter” indicates a lack of understanding of what makes a player valuable.

        These signings may be underwhelming, but average or even slightly below average starters will represent a major upgrade over last season’s horrific rotation. And Hughes’ upside is significantly better than that.

        Contending may be a long shot, but it will be very surprising if they do not improve.

      • byjiminy - Dec 1, 2013 at 9:38 AM

        I wasn’t actually talking about contending this year. You’re right to consider that idea absurd. But when Buxton, Sano, Meyer, May, Rosario, Arcia, etc. come up, they still won’t be able to contend unless surrounded by some competent supporting staff. These pitchers could be part of a contending team in two years.

  7. doctorfootball - Nov 30, 2013 at 11:58 PM

    “Twins sign Phil Hughes”

    On purpose? Um, why?

  8. thomas844 - Dec 1, 2013 at 12:06 AM

    It’s amazing how much mediocre ballplayers are getting paid nowadays. Makes you wonder if the stars like Cano really will start getting those $30 million a year contracts that they want.

    Still, this could end up being a nice signing for the Twins. As bad as their 2013 rotation was, anything helps at this point.

    • chill1184 - Dec 1, 2013 at 12:19 AM

      This is the market now and probably in future free agent classes. With very few impact talents actually making it to free agency, teams are going to have to overpay for average to borderline talents if they do not wish to explore trades.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Dec 1, 2013 at 3:35 AM

        OK, I fully understand it’s the market these days and inflation and all that. Still, as an old fart, it just feels really weird to see a guy with crap numbers last season will get more money next year than Koufax, Drysdale and Gibson made in their careers put together.

      • Glenn - Dec 1, 2013 at 10:21 AM

        Do you think it is weird that a horrible owner like McCourt can make $2 billion dollars selling the Dodgers after screwing up the franchise? I’m perfectly willing to accept that players make decent money relative to the money MLB generates.

  9. mattzeni15222451 - Dec 1, 2013 at 12:26 AM

    Good for him. I hope he gets his stuff together and has a 2010 like season.

  10. pisano - Dec 1, 2013 at 12:32 AM

    Let the explosions begin. I just thank God the Yankees didn’t bring him back on a low ball contract, because it would only have gotten worse for him. I honestly believe a lot of his problem is in his head, and a change of scenery can only help him.

  11. Ryan Lansing - Dec 1, 2013 at 12:32 AM

    When the Twins were trying to trade Johan Santana there were heavy rumors that he was about to be dealt to the Yankees for Phil Hughes and Melky Cabrera. Back then they were both prospects with very little MLB experience, but I and a lot of other Twins fans liked the sound of that deal and were disappointed when Santana went to the Mets for Carlos Gomez and Phil Humber. All five of those players have had an interesting few years since then, and now the Twins have Hughes after all.

    • mikhelb - Dec 1, 2013 at 2:57 AM

      IIRC the Twins asked back then for: Hughes+Kennedy+Melky and the Yankees balked, other trades contemplated Hughes+Kennedy+Joba, most teams wanted the trio of pitchers and Melky who back then was already a good OF (an above average AVG/OBP hitter even before PEDs, not so good at fielding balls in front of him but with a very strong arm).

      • Jeremiah Graves - Dec 1, 2013 at 10:56 AM

        I remember wanting the Twins to go with the Red Sox rumored offer of Coco Crisp / Jon Lester / Jed Lowrie / Justin Masterson.

        The big issue at the time was that the Twins were steadfast in wanting Jacoby Ellsbury (then coming off an impressive 2 month run to end the season and in the playoffs) and Clay Buchholz and wouldn’t budge. This despite the fact that the Red Sox package of players would have filled decidedly more areas of need in the short-term with Lowrie bringing solid defense/power to the middle infield, Crisp serving as a solid bridge and contributor in the outfield, and Lester/Masterson both serving as solid pieces of a competitive AL Central rotation.

  12. fat4jc - Dec 1, 2013 at 12:35 AM

    this immediately makes me feel better about my Giants giving Vogelsong 1 yr / 5 mil

  13. tfbuckfutter - Dec 1, 2013 at 12:47 AM

    I like cracking wise and all….but this actually probably isn’t a bad deal on either end.

    He may or may not rebound, at a reasonable price for a young starting pitcher, for a team that most people forget exists.

    If he performs well during the regular season then after the contract he can move on to a team that actually has modest post season hopes. If not, he can move on to the Long Island Ducks as That-Guy-The-Yankees-Wouldn’t-Trade-To-Get-Miguel-Cabrera.

  14. paperlions - Dec 1, 2013 at 12:55 AM

    What is really sad is that the Twins don’t have someone in their organization they can pay the minimum to go out and pitch poorly. Hughes hasn’t been bad for just one year. He’s been really bad for 3 straight years.

    • tfbuckfutter - Dec 1, 2013 at 1:11 AM

      Meh…he’s kind of sucked his whole career.

      Aside form the fact that he won 18 and 16 games, his ERA was barely above average those seasons.

      I would, however, love to see him turn things around because the Yankees are dicks and I like seeing them insist a prospect is special, fail at developing him, and then see him put it together elsewhere (and then the added value of watching them consider signing him back on the open market at a ridiculously inflated value knowing he’s going to probably revert to sucking afterward)…..

      A lot of my baseball fandom is rooted in schadenfreude.

      • paperlions - Dec 1, 2013 at 10:42 AM

        Haha…you aren’t the only one. I think a large part of most (if not every) fan’s rooting is rooted in schadenfreude. After all, if your team doesn’t win, don’t most fans pick another team to root for….with that often being determined as much by who you don’t want to see win as who you would like to see win?

        I don’t think the Yankees hype (or over-hype) their prospects as much as the national media does. Even writers that actually scout the minors and do prospect grading/rankings regularly tap the breaks on Yankee prospects, not because of what the Yankees say, but because of what other media members say and the pure amount of exposure one gets just by being a Yankee prospect.

  15. pwshrugged - Dec 1, 2013 at 1:55 AM

    This isn’t a terrible deal; in terms of money spent and the current market, it’s actually pretty good if you’re looking at it by itself. His numbers are likely to improve in the more spacious Target Field, as well.

    However, when you factor in that he’s going to the Twins, as someone who pays attention to that organization, this is just another uninspired move to try and spruce up a terrible rotation with a mediocre guy whose ceiling is that of a #3 starter.

    The other issue is just that inherent in the Twins – like the Nolasco signing, this simply isn’t exciting. They’re digging deep into the free agent barrel to get a bargain signing when, really, if they want to be relevant again, they need to make a splash somewhere. No one’s shaking in their boots at this suddenly “revamped” Twins rotation of some mix of Nolasco/Hughes/Deduno/Correia/Diamond/Gibson/Worley.

    To be fair, though, there’s really no stud pitcher for them to go out and sign even if they wanted to.

  16. yournuts - Dec 1, 2013 at 2:09 AM

    Good luck Phil. At least your playing on a team that you had success with.

  17. masseytho - Dec 1, 2013 at 3:30 AM

    Okay weaselpuppy, 1st of all. yes the twins may look like an “ugly team” right now. but whats its to you? not much a team can do when its rebuilding time, willingham did have a tough season this last one but it wont suprise anyone if and when he bounces back. Never ever refer to joe mauer as a slap hitter again, refer to him as joe mauer because hes one of the games best hitters not to mention best players. it will lengthen his career by moving to 1st base. their rotation is a circus but signing nolasco and hughes can only improve it. hicks was thrown out to the wolves in his 1st season in the bigs, starting in game 1, hes an excellent fielder and give him some time to find the stroke on his bat, he didnt even play a full season. the twins can only improve from their 3 straight 95 loss seasons and once buxton and sano are ready is when the twins will make their way towards being a relevant franchise. baseball is all about patience. the twins can win 80 games in 2014

    • weaselpuppy - Dec 1, 2013 at 4:41 AM

      Wade Boggs thinks Joe Mauer is a slap hitter.,,,,

  18. zzalapski - Dec 1, 2013 at 3:44 AM

    Another way to look at this deal is that if Hughes pitches well in 2014, his contract will look very attractive to teams who miss out on the Cadillac El Dorado (Kershaw) or the set of steak knives (Scherzer) of the impending 2015 SP free agents. The Twins have more holes than can be filled with free agents within their budget, so a good strategy would be to flip any assets for players that they can fit in around Sano, Buxton, Meyer, etc. as part of their next contending team.

  19. disgracedfury - Dec 1, 2013 at 4:14 AM

    Well at least playing for the twins is like playing for an NL team and great for fly-ball pitching.

  20. anxovies - Dec 1, 2013 at 4:43 AM

    Hughes drove me crazy, he could always be counted on to get ahead of the batter and then give up the long ball at the worst possible time. It seemed like he set himself up to fail and set the Yankees up for disappointment. Having said that, in the fishbowl that is the New York press he never made excuses or blamed poor defense or run support. I hope that a new start with the Twins will give him success. He is young and is one quality pitch away from being a good starter.

  21. proudlycanadian - Dec 1, 2013 at 6:45 AM

    I thought that Hughes was inconsistent. Good in some games and terrible in others. Even though, he will be missed by the other AL East teams, I wish him well

  22. tigers182 - Dec 1, 2013 at 7:40 AM

    $8 million/ year is not bad for him, even after a bad year. He’s got talent and some players just need a change of scenery.

  23. markofapro - Dec 1, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    Never pitched close to 200 innings and he’s getting millions. Good for him, bad for Twins.

  24. cackalackyank - Dec 1, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    Wow this is just f’ing nuts. …and I almost feel bad for the Twins fans. That organization used to produce real talent and now there signing washouts like Hughes.

    • cackalackyank - Dec 1, 2013 at 10:09 AM

      *they’re

    • Bryz - Dec 1, 2013 at 11:09 AM

      Uh… this is how the Twins have ALWAYS operated. Build up through the farm system and complement those players with some bargain-shopping free agents (Livan Hernandez, Sidney Ponson, Ramon Ortiz, for example). The only difference this year is that the Twins are actually finding some solid free agents instead of scraping the bottom of the barrel.

      Also, you need to remember that the rotation was so bad for the past 2 years that signing Nolasco and Hughes are significant improvements already. No, this rotation isn’t going to dominate, but it’s becoming closer to competent.

  25. yahmule - Dec 1, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    Amazing. The guy has sustained an incredible level of high regard despite his own worst efforts.

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