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

60 Comments

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.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

Getty Images
Leave a comment

To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.