Phil Coke served as a left-handed specialist for the Yankees over the past two seasons, working strictly out of the bullpen while logging just 74.2 innings in 83 appearances. He pitched well, with a 3.74 ERA, 63/22 K/BB ratio, and .199 opponents’ average, but that success came while being matched up against left-handed hitters 60 percent of the time.
Coke likely would have been used similarly in 2010 had he stayed in New York, but after being traded to Detroit in the three-team Curtis Granderson deal there’s talk of the Tigers giving the 27-year-old southpaw a chance in their rotation. Here’s what general manager Dave Dombrowski had to say about the possibility:
There’s a chance, by all means. Our people liked him in the minors as a starter, and he had good numbers. Those will be some discussions that we have. I’m not making any declaration, because we haven’t made any decision. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had the opportunity to be one of our starters.
Coke was a starter for most of his minor-league career, but as Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes can attest to it’s often difficult for young pitchers to crack and stick in the Yankees’ rotation. Coke had already been shifted to the bullpen by the time he reached Triple-A, but he went 9-4 with a 2.51 ERA and 115/39 K/BB ratio in 118.1 innings as a starter at Double-A. Giving him an opportunity to be a solid mid-rotation starter before making him a good left-handed specialist certainly makes sense.
Twins right-hander Phil Hughes is headed to the Padres, according to announcements from both teams on Sunday. The Padres will also receive the 74th overall draft pick and cash considerations from the Twins, who are getting minor league catcher Janigson Villalobos in return. Minnesota is expected to absorb $7.5 million of Hughes’ $22 million contract; per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, they’ll take on his remaining salary for the 2018 season and pay an additional $5.7 million in 2019.
Hughes, 31, is far from the 16-win, sub-4.00 ERA hurler the Twins enjoyed in 2014. He hasn’t pitched more than 60 innings in any season since 2015, due in part to multiple bouts of back stiffness and shoulder surgeries. He was designated for assignment last week after missing significant time with a left oblique strain and delivering a 6.75 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 6.0 SO/9 through his first 12 innings of 2018.
Villalobos, meanwhile, will provide the Twins with some depth as he continues to work his way through the minor league system. The 21-year-old backstop recently completed a circuit with the Padres’ rookie-level affiliate in the Arizona League, slashing .275/.367/.388 with eight extra bases and a .755 OPS in 98 PA.
The real get for the Padres isn’t Hughes (even with much of his salary already accounted for), but the Competitive Balance B selection in next week’s amateur draft. As MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell points out, the club lost their second-round pick after inking Eric Hosmer to a massive eight-year, $144 million deal back in February.