Tampa Bay calling up stud pitching prospect Matt Moore is getting all the attention–and rightfully so–but the Rays have also promoted Russ Canzler to the majors after the 25-year-old took home International League MVP honors by hitting .314 with 18 homers, 40 doubles, and a .930 OPS in Durham.
Canzler signed with the Rays as a minor-league free agent this offseason, so he’s far from a top prospect, but he also hit .287 with 21 homers and a .938 OPS at Double-A in the Cubs’ system last year.
As for how much or even where he’ll play for the Rays, that remains unclear. Canzler saw significant action for Durham at third base, first base, right field, and left field, but was primarily a first baseman prior to this season.
Dan Johnson, Steve Cox, Kevin Witt, and Toby Hall previously won the International League MVP award while in the Rays’ farm system and that didn’t exactly lead to future stardom, but Canzler at least has a chance to be an interesting player if given an opportunity.
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.