Joe Saunders ranks fourth on Matthew Pouliot’s list of unsigned free agents, but indications last week were that he’s close to choosing a new team and apparently there’s at least one offer on the table from Minnesota.
Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com reports that the Twins “are waiting to hear back” from Saunders’ agent and their “preference” is a one-year deal, but a team source speculated that he’s still looking for multiple years and may prefer to pitch elsewhere anyway.
Twins president Dave St. Peter was our guest on this week’s “Gleeman and The Geek” podcast and made it very clear when we interviewed him Saturday that the team has plenty of payroll space to make a late addition or two. St. Peter didn’t name Saunders specifically, of course, but starting pitching obviously remains the Twins’ biggest priority and he’s been linked to Minnesota all offseason.
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.