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Phil Hughes Rumors
Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos and manager John Gibbons are in no immediate danger of losing their jobs, but that could change if team president Paul Beeston leaves his post, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes. Beeston is in the last year of his contract, and there is speculation around the game about whether he’ll stay. Beeston backed Red Sox chairman Tom Werner over Rob Manfred for commissioner, which Rosenthal implies might suggest Beeston was looking for a job in the commissioner’s office. Also, Rogers Communications, which owns the Jays, hired a new CEO in January. Here are more notes from the American League.
- Phil Hughes is open to a contract extension with the Twins, writes Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. Hughes quietly had one of the top seasons among starting pitchers, with 6.1 fWAR and 4.3 rWAR. He walked just 16 batters in 209 1/3 innings. Combined with a solid 8 K/9, Hughes set a major league record for K/BB ratio at 11.63 while pitching to a 3.52 ERA. Hughes is entering his age-29 season and has two years and $16MM remaining on his contract.
- Earlier this weekend, the Orioles designated reliever Preston Guilmet for assignment. For Guilmet, that move concluded a season spent in a transaction vortex, CSN Baltimore’s Rich Dubroff writes. Since Guilmet arrived in a minor trade with the Indians in April, he’s been involved (by MLBTR’s count) in 14 transactions, mostly a function of the fact that he had options. None of those transactions were earth-shaking, but they had to have been trying for Guilmet personally.
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe looks at nine managers and GMs to watch. The Braves search for a new GM features prominently on the list. While Royals owner David Glass won’t prevent GM Dayton Moore from pursuing the opening in Atlanta, the matter of compensation could still complicate a move. When the Red Sox traded Theo Epstein to the Cubs, they only acquired an unaccomplished reliever in Chris Carpenter. The Royals would want more in return for Moore.
- If Atlanta’s interim GM John Hart decides to pass on the permanent position, he’ll be heavily involved in picking his successor. Hart helped groom several future GMs like Ben Cherington, Neal Huntington, and Mark Shapiro. Assistant GM John Coppolella could be next on the list.
- It’s surprising Giants bench coach Ron Wotus isn’t connected to more managerial searches. Wotus is Bruce Bochy’s right-hand man and a former PCL manager of the year. My personal observation: the trend of hiring recently retired players has hurt the visibility of Wotus.
- A poll of 12 GMs found in favor of paying Phil Hughes the $500,000 bonus for reaching 210 innings. He fell one-third of an inning short due to a rain delay. He also had another start affected by rain earlier in September. Eight GMs were in favor of paying Hughes with four opposed. Those against the idea cited contractual reasons. As we learned earlier this week, the CBA prevents the Twins from simply paying the bonus to Hughes without restructuring his contract.
The Brewers fell to the Reds today by a score of 5-3, thereby officially eliminating the club from the postseason despite having spent 150 days in first place in the NL Central this season. As MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy notes, Milwaukee’s collapse makes the Brewers the first team since divisional play began in 1969 to spend that much time in first place but miss the postseason (Twitter link).
Here are some notes from Milwaukee and elsewhere in the game’s central divisions …
- Ryan Braun could at least theoretically be moved from the outfield to plug the Brewers‘ hole at first base, reports MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. Manager Ron Roenicke said that the team had discussed that possibility, but indicated that it was a hypothetical discussion that did not seem likely to go anywhere. If Braun stays in the outfield, the team will both need to find a new first bagger (both Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay are free agents) and will face a more difficult decision whether to tender a contract to Gerardo Parra. As McCalvy notes, there are currently three possibilities already on the club’s 40-man roster in Matt Clark, Hunter Morris, and Jason Rogers. Otherwise, Milwaukee could turn to a free agent market that does appear to have a decent number of lumbering slugger types available.
- Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez will soon meet with his agent, Paul Kinzer, to discuss his strategic options, writes McCalvy. Ramirez says that he has yet to seriously consider his future, though generally would like to stay with Milwaukee and is not sure he is interested in committing to multiple years. If he does decide to test the open market, Ramirez would need to turn down a $14MM mutual option (if it is offered in lieu of a $4MM buyout). Though his production is down somewhat this year, the 36-year-old remains a solid regular and would draw plenty of attention on the open market.
- After a rain delay put a premature end to the last start of the season for Phil Hughes of the Twins, the club offered him a chance to make a relief appearance this weekend to notch the last out needed to trigger a $500K contract bonus, reports MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger (links to Twitter). Even more remarkable than that offer, perhaps, is the fact that Hughes declined, saying that he “owe[s] too much to the organization over the next two years to risk getting hurt.” (GM Terry Ryan said that it was not possible simply to give Hughes the cash, since the CBA would require a completely restructured contract, though Hughes also shot down that idea as setting a “bad precedent.”) Needless to say, this interesting tale puts a shine on an already gleaming turnaround year for Hughes.
- The emergence of Hector Rondon as the Cubs‘ closer this year makes him an easy choice to keep the role next year, writes MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat. Rondon, 26, took a big step forward in 2014, striking out nearly nine batters per nine (against 2.2 BB/9) while registering a 2.49 ERA. If he continues to rack up the saves — he sits at 27 on the year — Rondon will set himself up for a nice payday when he reaches arbitration eligibility after next season. His continued presence at the back of the pen — bolstered by Pedro Strop and Neil Ramirez, both of whom have had strong campaigns — could keep the Cubs out of the free agent market for late-inning arms.
Phil Hughes‘ excellent season with the Twins has been a bright spot in an otherwise bleak season for Minnesota, and his final start on Wednesday had plenty of significance. Hughes whiffed five hitters and walked none, giving him an 11.63-to-1 K/BB ratio on the season — a new Major League record. However, it rained in Minneapolis for a little over an hour after the eighth inning, causing Hughes’ start to end even though he had thrown just 96 pitches. That caused Hughes to fall an unthinkable one out shy of a $500K bonus — an incentive he would have triggered upon reaching 210 innings. As Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com tweeted after the game, manager Ron Gardenhire said Hughes will not pitch in relief this weekend in order to reach the $500K bonus – meaning that poor weather (Hughes also had a Sept. 13 start rained out) will likely cost him half a million dollars. Hughes told Bollinger that he was very aware of what he needed to do Wednesday in order to secure his final contractual incentive but took the terrible luck in stride, saying, “Some things aren’t meant to be.” Hughes did earn $250K worth of bonuses for reaching both 180 and 195 innings, bringing his 2014 salary to $8.5MM.
More from the AL Central…
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski tells Chris Iott of MLive.com that the Tigers had scouts on hand to see Yasmany Tomas in the Dominican Republic this past Sunday, but he wouldn’t tip his hand as to whether or not his club was scheduling a private workout with the slugger. The Rangers and Phillies have both had private workouts with Tomas, who was the subject of MLBTR’s first Free Agent Profile of the upcoming offseason. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes pegged Tomas for seven years and $105MM — a contract that would be a record-setter in terms of total guarantee and average annual value for a Cuban player.
- While the White Sox figure to add to their bullpen this offseason, Jake Petricka has carved out a role as future member of the group, writes Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune. The 26-year-old Petricka has seen time in the closer’s role this season, converting 14 of 18 save opportunities and pitching to a 2.88 ERA in 72 innings. While he doesn’t have an elite strikeout rate (6.9 K/9), his 63.9 percent ground-ball rate ranks fifth among qualified relievers. Fellow right-hander Zach Putnam — he of a 1.98 ERA in 54 2/3 innings — also figures to be a bullpen cog for the South Siders going forward, Kane notes.
- Though he was only drafted three and a half months ago, Brandon Finnegan has emerged as a bullpen weapon for the Royals, and assistant GM J.J. Picollo tells Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star that the team won’t rule out Finnegan breaking camp with the team in 2015. The team’s ultimate vision is to use Finnegan as a starter, so it’s more likely that he begins next year at Double-A or Triple-A, McCullough notes. Still, the team plans to replace James Shields internally, writes McCullough, and Picollo refused to put any hard limitations on Finnegan’s trajectory: “I don’t think it’s out of the question that he would start (the season) in the major leagues. … I’m not saying it’s what we’re going to do. But he’ll be given an opportunity to win a job on the team.”
Phil Hughes of the Twins has capped off one of the game’s best turnarounds by topping 200 innings on the year after today’s outing. As Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press notes on Twitter, Hughes picked up a $250K bonus after passing the 195 IP threshold. Needless to say, Minnesota is thrilled that it not only landed Hughes, who just turned 28, but that it did so on a three-year deal that promises him just $24MM in total. As Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register observes (Twitter link), Hughes has struck out 181 batters while issuing a mere 16 walks this year, meaning that he owns an absurd 11.3 K/BB ratio. That is a historically significant mark, and one that would surely have made the righty one of the offseason’s most interesting free agents had he elected to take a one-year pillow contract last year.
- You can count the Yankees among the teams taking a hard look at Yasmani Tomas, reports George A. King III of the New York Post. Of course, they will be far from the only team doing so. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez provides an interesting look at the much-hyped young slugger, who is preparing for an important showcase on Sunday. “It was really difficult to leave Cuba,” said Tomas (translation from Spanish via Sanchez). “It is for all of us who do it. But it’s difficult there with the way the security is and how they control the players. I made an important decision to fulfill my dream and see if I was at the level of major league players. Here I am, and now I go forward.”
- Rangers hurler Colby Lewis says that he was told “maybe” when he asked club GM Jon Daniels about the possibility of a return next year, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star -Telegram reports on Twitter. The 35-year-old righty has only a 5.12 ERA over 158 1/3 innings this year, but then again he had been out since July of 2012 with various injury issues. Lewis owns a 4.33 FIP and has notched 7.0 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9 on the season, making him a potentially appealing option for teams looking for a solid innings-eater.
- Twins closer Glen Perkins will be shut down for the rest of the year but ultimately received good news on his left arm, GM Terry Ryan told reporters including Phil Miller of the Star Tribune (Twitter link). Perkins will use a strength and conditioning program to deal with a forearm strain and nerve irritation, and is expected to be at full strength for the spring.
- The Orioles are nearing finalization of a deal with Cuban hurler Lazaro Leyva, reports Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter). Leyva has reportedly agreed to terms on a $725K deal to join the Baltimore organization.
Eduardo Rodriguez, the pitching prospect the Red Sox acquired from the Orioles for Andrew Miller in July, could end up being a key acquisition, WEEI.com’s Alex Speier writes. “Steal of the trade deadline…I know Miller is doing great in Baltimore, but this kid will make that trade look real bad,” says one evaluator. Rodriguez was dominant for Double-A Portland, posting an 0.96 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 37 1/3 innings there before being promoted to make his debut for Triple-A Pawtucket Friday in the International League Championship Series. Here’s more from around the American League.
- The Twins‘ rainout on Friday could cost Phil Hughes $500K, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes. Hughes’ start was delayed until today, and now, in order to pitch the Twins’ last game of the season on September 28, he’ll need to pitch on short rest, since the Twins have a day off on September 18. With 187 2/3 innings so far this season, Hughes could, as a result, miss 210 innings, a total that would earn him a $500K bonus.
- Chris Young‘s former Mets manager is happy the outfielder has found success so far with the Yankees, Mike Vorkunov of NJ.com writes. “He came and we were hoping the best and just had a rough go here, but as I told somebody here, he hit big homers here for us too, big ones,” says Terry Collins. “Just didn’t enough. Happy for him and I hope he makes a contribution over there.” The Mets designated Young for assignment and then released him last month after he hit a disappointing .205/.283/.346 in 287 plate appearances there, and he’s now hit three home runs on three straight days (including one in yesterday’s doubleheader) with the Yankees.
Milwaukee's trade of Norichika Aoki to the Royals makes sense for the Brewers and for Aoki himself, MLB.com's Adam McCalvy writes. Khris Davis' emergence late last season means there won't be room for Aoki as a full-time player now that Ryan Braun's suspension is over, as the Brewers will go with an outfield of Davis, Carlos Gomez and Braun. Aoki's path to playing time will be clearer in Kansas City. "Everybody was on board with it," says Aoki's agent, Nez Balelo. "[Kansas City] was the best viable option. He’s going to love it there because he will get an opportunity to lead off and play every day." Here are more notes from the Central divisions.
- Royals infielder Christian Colon has switched agents from Scott Boras to Excel Sports, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.
- The Royals and Angels might make good trade partners, with the Angels sending second baseman Howie Kendrick to Kansas City in return for young pitching, the Los Angeles Times' Mike DiGiovanna tweets.
- Phil Hughes was surprised to receive a three-year, $24MM deal from the Twins, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports. "Obviously the season I had was a disaster," says Hughes. "Coming into this thing, I was kind of expecting to just rebuild my value with a good year next year somewhere." The Mariners and Angels were among the other teams who bid for Hughes, but the Twins' offer of three guaranteed years won out.
- Now that the White Sox have signed Jose Dariel Abreu and re-signed Paul Konerko, there's less playing time available for Adam Dunn, writes CSNChicago.com's Dan Hayes. It appears Konerko and Dunn will platoon, with Konerko starting at designated hitter against lefties. Dunn hit .226/.327/.459 against righties last year, compared to .197/.296/.385 against lefties.
5:05pm: Berardino reports that Hughes' contract contains a limited no-trade clause that allows Hughes to block trades to three teams (via Twitter). Nolasco received a similar clause.
2:31pm: Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that Hughes will earn $8MM in each year of the contract. Also, in each season of the contract, Hughes will earn $250K for reaching 180 and and 195 innings pitched, as well as an additional $500K for reaching the 210-inning threshold (Twitter links).
2:10pm: The Twins made it clear late in the 2013 season that they planned to spend on free agent pitching this offseason, and they've now done so by issuing the two largest free agent contracts in franchise history. Minnesota announced Ricky Nolasco's four-year, $49MM contract earlier in the week, and on Thursday they announced the signing of Phil Hughes to a three-year, $24MM pact. Hughes, a client of CAA Sports' Nez Balelo, can reportedly earn an additional $1MM worth of incentives in each year of the deal.
A still-young 27, Hughes appears to have succeeded in translating the promise of his stuff into a larger contract than many projected. While our own Steve Adams' assessment of an $8MM annual salary for Hughes was correct, he predicted a one-year deal that would allow Hughes to hope for a big season in a spacious ballpark (such as Targe Field in Minneapolis) that would allow him to re-enter the market next winter. The two additional years on the contract are surprising, as few, if any, pegged Hughes for a three-year deal. Hughes came within one year of the four-year, $32MM deal that the Royals gave to Jason Vargas, a pitcher with an inferior fastball who's nevertheless been better, more durable and more consistent.
While he's steadily maintained his low-90s velocity since breaking into the big leagues in 2007, Hughes owns a career 4.54 ERA in more than 780 innings. Home runs have always been a problem for the right-hander, as he's averaged almost 1.2 per nine innings for his career. This year, he posted a 1.48 HR/9 en route to a 5.19 ERA in 145 2/3 innings. The Twins no doubt hope that a transition to Target Field, a much more spacious ballpark than Yankee Stadium, will be a panacea for Hughes' longball issues.
Durability is also a concern for Hughes, as he's never reached the 200-inning mark in his career and has just three times surpassed 100 innings. He struggled down the stretch in 2013, posting a 6.32 ERA in the season's second half. Over his career, Hughes has logged DL time for back and shoulder issues.
Coupled with the recent Ricky Nolasco signing, the deal represents something of a change in tactics for the Twins, who haven't typically been big spenders on the free agent market. In fact, as Neal notes in his article, the Nolasco and Hughes deals represent the two largest contracts the club has ever given to outside free agents. The struggles of the 2013 Twins rotation, which ranked last in the majors in ERA and K/9, apparently prompted the team to commit to major upgrades. Like Nolasco, inking Hughes won't require Minnesota to forfeit a draft pick, as the Yankees didn't extend him a qualifying offer.
LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune was the first to report the signing and the terms. 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson was the first to report the additional incentives in Hughes' contract (Twitter link).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Here's the latest from the American League West:
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels says the club is still looking for a durable backup catcher, reports T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Though the recent spate of catcher moves took away some hypothetical options, Daniels said that "nobody has come off the board that we really pursued." Sullivan notes that Kurt Suzuki is one player in whom Texas has interest.
- In looking to add a backstop, the Rangers were close to adding J.P. Arencibia via trade before he was non-tendered by the Blue Jays, Sullivan reports. But the club did not want to add Arencibia unless it could work out terms on a new deal, and ultimately that did not happen. He joins Suzuki as possible free agent options for Texas.
- The Athletics' signing of left-handed starter Scott Kazmir to a two-year, $22MM deal kicked off a flurry of big moves for the A's. MLB.com's Jane Lee provides a summation of the considerations that brought him to Oakland, with Kazmir saying he loves the team and fan base and looks forward to throwing in the Coliseum. For GM Billy Beane, the club liked Kazmir's stuff, restored fastball velocity, overall body of work in 2013, and young age (29). Though Kazmir's up-and-down career trajectory might have scared off some clubs, Beane says that he views Kazmir's "character-building experience" of getting back to a high level of performance as a positive.
- Before Phil Hughes decided to take a three-year deal with the Twins, the Angels made him an offer of a "nice one-year deal," reports Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). As FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal noted in discussing several of MLB's recent moves, baseball sources believe Hughes could have landed up to $9MM or $10MM on a one-year deal, though another source told Rosenthal that no offers of that magnitude had actually been made.
- Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik declined to comment on whether or not the club is pursuing Robinson Cano, reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, saying that the club is keeping its talks "in house" but has "a lot of dialogue going on a lot of fronts." Talking generally about offering long-term deals, Zduriencik indicated that the club prefers to minimize risk but must "adapt to the market." While saying he would "like to add three" bats to the club, the Mariners GM noted that the club would still also be interested in adding "another starting pitcher" or even another pen piece.
- Ultimately, Zduriencik confirmed the widespread view that Seattle is looking to add impact to its roster. "It was a clear goal of ours to get us to a point where we would have young and inexpensive players throughout the line-up and I think we've accomplished that goal," said Zduriencik. "I always felt there would be a time where [we] would have to augment this club. I think we are at that time."
Justin Morneau sounded certain in stating that he will one day return to the Twins in some capacity but acknowledged that it's not likely to be in 2014, writes Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Said Morneau: "There’s no saying I won’t be back in the future. You never know what the opportunity is going to be, whether it’s as a player, later, or as a coach, or someone who comes down to spring training. Whatever it is, it’s a different chapter, but [Minnesota] is something that will stick with me forever." Morneau made his first Twin Cities public appearance since being traded over the weekend, signing autographs and thanking fans for donating to a drive that raised more than 3,000 coats for the Salvation Army. Morneau told Miller that he's spoken recently with longtime teammate and friend Michael Cuddyer, who put in a good word for the Rockies. More on the Twins…
- The Twins have asked their newest acquisition, Ricky Nolasco, about his former catcher John Buck, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The Twins have reportedly moved on from the Jarrod Saltalamacchia sweepstakes and will deploy Josmil Pinto as their primary catcher in 2014.
- Though Minnesota had just three arbitration eligible players this offseason (all of whom were tendered contracts), they could have as many as nine next winter, writes Berardino. Berardino looks at the potential arbitration classes for the next three offseasons, noting of course that not every player included on his lists will accumulate the necessary service time to reach arbitration.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted yesterday that age was a big factor for the Twins in signing Phil Hughes to a surprising three-year, $24MM contract. The Twins are hopeful that they can fix Hughes up and thereby make him an important piece of improved teams in 2015-16 while he's still in his prime years.
- The Twins were "a close second" in the bidding for A.J. Pierzynski, according to La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (on Twitter). Pierzynski agreed to a one-year, $8.25MM contract with the Red Sox earlier today.