The Minnesota Twins have signed former New York Yankees right hander Phil Hughes to a $24 million, three-year deal. According to the Pioneer Press, the Twins will introduce Hughes as early as Thursday.
Hughes went 4-14 with a 5.19 ERA last season with the Yankees. He was 1-10 with a 6.32 ERA at Yankee Stadium though, so a move to pitcher-friendly Target Field could be exactly what the 27-year-old needs to jumpstart his career and also jumpstart the Minnesota’s flat lined pitching staff.
He was an All-Star in 2010 when he went 18-8 with a 4.19 ERA and was shaping up as a building block for the Yankees’ rotation. Hughes was a former first-round draft pick and a once coveted young pitcher by many teams. One of those teams was the Twins. They had discussions with the Yankees about Hughes headlining a package for Johan Santana after the 2007 season.
But the Yankees pulled out of those talks, because the thought very highly of Hughes, and the Twins eventually sent Santana to the Mets.
But Hughes developed shoulder problems in 2011 that limited him to 17 starts and has been underwhelming the past two seasons while also dealing with back problems. Hughes has made 61 starts in the past two years, and Twins hope that getting him into spacious Target Field could help him stabilize one of the worst pitching staffs in the majors.
The Twins have lost at least 96 games in each of the last three seasons, mostly because of their starting pitching. Last year, their starters had an MLB-worst ERA of 5.26. Toronto was the next worst at 4.81. Only two of their starters had ERAs under 5.00, with Samuel Deduno’s 3.83 leading the way and Kevin Correia next at 4.18.
Upgrading their rotation was by far the biggest priority for the team entering this winter, and the Twins have plunged into the task with uncharacteristic free-spending verve. They started off by signing former Los Angeles Dodger right-hander Ricky Nolasco to a $49 million, four-year contract last week.
They have now committed $73 million on Hughes and Nolasco, the two biggest contracts the franchise has given to players outside the organization.
And the Twins may not be done. They have been in discussions to retain veteran Mike Pelfrey while looking at other free agents, including Bronson Arroyo and Matt Garza. But it would be a big surprise if Minnesota signed Arroyo and Garza after landing such high priced players already.