Paul Konerko and Shane Victorino went wire-to-wire in winning the All-Star Game Final Vote and will be the 34th men on their respective teams next week.
With no Yankees nor Red Sox making the cut, Konerko’s path to claiming the AL opening was clear. He held off Victor Martinez, Alex Gordon, Adam Jones and Ben Zobrist for the much-deserved nod. Konerko ranks fourth in the AL with 22 homers and 64 RBI and sixth with a .319 average.
Victorino also looked like the right choice, if only because the NL couldn’t even put fellow center fielder Andrew McCutchen on the ballot. Victorino, who also won the final vote in 2009, beat out Andre Ethier, Todd Helton, Michael Morse and Ian Kennedy.
Unfortunately, Victorino is currently sidelined with a sprained right thumb that could keep him out of next week’s contest. But maybe that just means McCutchen will take his spot. The NL squad had just one legitimate center fielder in Matt Kemp before Victorino was added, so it’s make more sense to replace him with another center fielder than with Ethier.
7:25 p.m. EDT update: A cool note from MLB.com’s Scott Merkin:
Konerko was to get $15,000 bonus for making the All-Star team. As a thank you for the fan vote, he’s donating it to White Sox Charities
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.