This is pretty minor in the grand scheme of things, but I’ve been thinking a bit about the timing of Mark McGwire’s little coming out party. Obviously his hiring meant that he had to talk about all of this, but when was the best time?
He was hired in October. Major League Baseball probably would have got mad if he brought this circus down during the playoffs and World Series, so that’s out. It was reported in yesterday’s New York Times that he didn’t want to do it before last week’s Hall of Fame announcement, because “because he did not want to appear as if he were trying to affect his chances of getting into the Hall of Fame.” That makes sense too, so cross off the rest of November and December. If he had gone too long beyond now it would have been getting pretty close to spring training, and people would have increasingly wondered when he was going to talk.
I guess, then, that Monday was as good a time as any. Which is kind of a bummer for me, because I was thinking of starting a rumor that Bill DeWitt demanded that he talk now in order to draw attention away from the fact that he got schooled by Boras in the Matt Holliday negotiations. Oh well.
Phil Hughes was officially designated for assignment by the Twins on Tuesday, the culmination of multiple injury-plagued seasons and poor performance.
Things couldn’t have started out much better for Hughes in Minnesota. The former Yankees hurler joined the Twins on a three-year, $24 million contract in December of 2013 and reeled off a 3.52 ERA over 32 starts during his first season with the club. He set the MLB record (which still stands, by the way) for single season strikeout-to-walk ratio and even received some downballot Cy Young Award consideration. The big year resulted in the two sides ripping up their previous agreement with a new five-year, $58 million deal, but it was all downhill after that.
Hughes took a step back with a 4.40 ERA in 2015 and struggled with a 5.95 ERA over 11 starts and one relief appearance in 2016 before undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. He wasn’t any better upon his return last year, putting up a 5.87 ERA in nine starts and five relief appearances. Hughes missed time with a biceps issue and required a thoracic outlet revision surgery in August. He began this year on the disabled list with an oblique injury, only to put up a 6.75 ERA over two starts and five relief appearances before the Twins decided to turn the page this week.
Hughes is still owed the remainder of his $13.2 million salary for this year and another $13.2 million next year. The deal didn’t work out as anyone would have hoped, but unfortunately this is another case of health just not cooperating.