Phil Hughes will start his fifth year in Minnesota in 2018 and he makes about $13.2 million a season, the third highest on the team as it stands today behind Joe Mauer and his $23 million deal and Ervin Santana and his $13.5 million contract. The Twins signed Hughes as a free agent starter in December 2013 and then gave him an extension through 2019 after a very good 2014 season.
After his extension, Hughes went on to have a mediocre 2015 season and then had physical ailments in 2016-2017 that limited him to just 26 starts and ERA’s of 5.95 and 5.87. The last two season have seen him pitch just 112.2 combined innings while giving up 148 hits and 23 home runs. Hughes had two trips to the Disabled List this past season for 104 days and in 2015 his trip to the DL cost him 100 days. Even back in 2014 he visited the DL once for 32 days.
So the Twins are on the hook for the next two seasons for $26+ million, not exactly a lot of money for a good starter but Hughes has not proven to be a reliable starter by any means. As the old hunter that coached the Minnesota Vikings once said, ability is great but without durability, it is wasted.
There are a lot of teams out there looking for pitching and his salary is not prohibitive so I would try to trade Phil Hughes in a deal where both teams take a calculated risk while trading pitchers that have under performed for what ever reason. After the 2018 season Hughes becomes a 10/5 guy and that limits team options and puts Hughes in the driver’s seat.
Failing to find a new home for Phil Hughes I would make him a reliever, a task that is not entirely new to Hughes and one that he had done OK in over the years but his trip to the pen in 2017 was not one of his better ones. If the Twins don’t land a closer in some other fashion I would even throw his hat in that ring even though Hughes gives up a lot of hits.
If the Twins can’t trade Hughes and the bullpen role doesn’t work out, then I would trade him for whatever I can get at the 2018 trading deadline, why pay him another $13 million in 2019? Phil Hughes has done basically nothing for the Twins in 2016 or 2017 and if his performance in 2018 is substandard then he should be jettisoned because the Twins won’t miss someone who has not contributed in the last few years. The Minnesota Twins have moved their play to another level, one that does not afford them the luxury of carrying dead weight and anything they get from Phil Hughes or for Phil Hughes is just gravy.