Former New York Yankees starting pitcher Phil Hughes is headed to the Minnesota Twins after signing a three-year, $24 million deal, reports La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Fox Sports' Jon Morosi followed on Sunday, Dec. 1:
Updates from Thursday, Dec. 5
From St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter Mike Berardino:
Hughes: "Felt like I got used to pitching in New York. Could be overblown. Time will tell."— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) December 5, 2013
Hughes on back: "Gotten smarter with my workouts. Maintaining health with my back. Won't be an issue going forward. All I can tell you."— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) December 5, 2013
Ryan: "We're willing to take a risk. This is a risky proposition. We've got hopes that with a change of scenery ... "— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) December 5, 2013
PH: "I know a bunch of these guys. Good group of guys. Target Field is a beautiful stadium. Think it's going to be a good fit all around."— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) December 5, 2013
---End of update---
Hughes showed promise in his seven seasons in the Bronx, but he was never able to take his game to the next level, so it seemed best for both sides to find a new situation.
Did the Yankees make the right decision not to re-sign Hughes?
The best word to describe the 27-year-old starter, at least through the early portion of his career, is average. His career ERA is 4.54, and his FIP (fielding independent pitching on an ERA scale) is similar at 4.31, showing he hasn't been a victim of bad luck or other factors beyond his control.
It simply comes down to Hughes being unable to further develop his repertoire, which is necessary for him to transition from the back end of a rotation to the front. The Yankees gave him ample opportunities in recent years.
The deal doesn't come as a major surprise. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN noted that Hughes was among the Twins' likely targets, even after they acquired Ricky Nolasco. They needed to make some changes in order to make a serious run toward the division title or a wild-card berth at the very least.
That's not to say adding Hughes is going to revitalize the entire team. When you combine his mediocre results with the fact that Minnesota needed bodies as much as actual rotation help, Hughes' signing starts to make sense. He finished 4-14 this past season with a 5.19 ERA, the second time in three seasons he's gone above the 5.00 mark.
Still, there's no reason Hughes can't eventually take that next step with his new club. Perhaps a new coaching staff will be able to get him over that hump to transform the right-hander from an average starter to a very valuable piece of the rotation. As well, he's moving from the ninth-most home-run-friendly ballpark to the 27th-most, per ESPN's Park Factors.
All told, Hughes' signs of progress were too often offset by poor stretches during his time with the Yankees. New York got the most it could out of Hughes, and it's hard to fault its choice to move on.
Landing in Minnesota is probably the best for all parties involved.