What could the Minnesota Twins bullpen look like in 2018?

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 22: Matt Belisle
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 22: Matt Belisle /
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CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 12: Starting pitcher Phil Hughes
CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 12: Starting pitcher Phil Hughes /

Long Reliever

Phil Hughes

This is going to come with plenty of sighs, but I assure you it gets better from here. While Phil Hughes has struggled to stay healthy and produce over the last two seasons, he’s still in the midst of a big contract that doesn’t come off the books until 2020. Additionally, it’s hard to see the right-hander return to the rotation. Basically, the Twins are going to add a starter or two and with Hughes’ injury problems, it only makes sense that a move to the bullpen could be in the works.

The Twins could cut bait with their former ace, but they’d still be on the hook for the $26 million-plus that’s left on his deal. In that case, they may as well move him to the bullpen unless he shows some kind of renaissance as a starting pitcher. In reality, Hughes has thrived out of the bullpen before as a setup man for the Yankees, so it’s not like it’d be a huge adjustment for the 31-year-old. The only difference would be that he’d settle for a long relief role. Sure, that’s a lot of money to pay a long reliever, but that’s the result of an awful contract.

Aside from Hughes, there are plenty of other options for this role. Namely, Kyle Gibson or Adalberto Mejía could see themselves pitching out of the pen. Depending on what moves Minnesota makes to improve the rotation, Gibson and Mejía could battle for the fifth starter spot with an outside chance of both making the rotation as the fourth and fifth starters. Yet, if the former happens, the loser could enter in the long relief conversation.

Nevertheless, I see Phil Hughes as the favorite though. Mejía is more than likely heading to the minors if he doesn’t make the rotation out of spring training. Reason being, he’s only 24 years old and has the skillset to develop into a consistent MLB starter. As for Gibson, they may do the same with him – considering the Twins have that option – if he doesn’t make the rotation. That way, they have a starter ready to go to in the minors when called upon.