A change of scenery could allow Phil Hughes to be more like the pitcher everyone thought he would be in 2007, but it's unlikely the Yankees will ever see that pitcher, writes Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger. Hughes could be given a qualifying offer this winter, but it seems more likely that this stage that the Bombers will simply let him walk rather than risk being on the hook for nearly $14MM. Here's more from around baseball..
- The Rangers aren't expected to make the same kind of push for Masahiro Tanaka that they did for Yu Darvish prior to the 2012 season, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports. Though they've scouted the right-hander, the Rangers don't see Tanaka as being a Darvish-caliber pitcher at the present. As Sullivan notes, Darvish had a 1.99 ERA in seven seasons in Japan, averaging 2.4 BB/9 and 8.9 K/9. Tanaka's Japanese stats - 2.32 ERA in seven seasons, 1.9 BB/9 and 8.5 K/9 – are similar, but reports suggest he doesn't have Darvish's overpowering fastball.
- In an article for ESPN Insider, Dan Szymborski examines MLB teams that have seen large drop-offs in a recent update to ESPN's Future Power Rankings scoring system, which projects overall franchise strength for the next five seasons. The Angels top the list following disappointing seasons by Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, but it's too early to declare that Pujols won't return to being an offensive contributor, Szymborski says. He also advises that the club make a play for free-agent pitchers such as Matt Garza or Hiroki Kuroda this offseason to bolster a struggling rotation. The Blue Jays, Brewers, Nationals and Reds round out the list.
- Omar Infante's new agent, Gene Mato, negotiated Anibal Sanchez's big five-year, $80MM deal with the Tigers this winter, MLB.com's Jason Beck notes. With a .319/.346/.453 line this year, Mato's new client could emerge as one of this offseason's top middle infielders, potentially complicating matters for the Tigers. Hernan Perez, 22, could be in line to inherit Detroit's second base job, but he may not be ready to do so by next season, Beck says.
Aaron Steen contributed to this post.