Phil Hughes was two years away from free agency but both he and the Twins realized that they wanted to hammer out something for the long term. In December, Hughes agreed to a three-year extension that will pay him $42MM but also allow him to cash in again at the age of 32.
For both sides, the deal appeared to be a win-win. The Twins locked up Hughes following his best season to date and Hughes will get to hit the open market roughly at the same age as James Shields when he inked a four-year, $75MM deal with the Padres in February. In a pre-game scrum with the Twins’ beat writers on Monday, I asked GM Terry Ryan if the club ever pushed for a longer deal with the right-hander.
“I think that’s kind of where our comfort level was, he was signed for two and we tacked on more…In essence, I think that’s where we felt pretty comfortable in terms of his age and what he accomplished in his life and all that stuff,” Ryan said. “We were comfortable with it and so was he. At the end of the deal he’ll be  and that’s getting to an age when you start to have a bit of…concern at that point but then again, that’s how old Ervin Santana is and we signed him to a four-year deal. He’s a young guy, he’s been around for a long time. That’s what happens when you sign out of high school and move into the majors quickly.”
Meanwhile, this spring, Eduardo Escobar has presented the Twins with one of those good problems to have. Escobar’s production at the plate has made some wonder if he could force shortstop Danny Santana back to the outfield, unseating Aaron Hicks. I asked Ryan about that possibility and he seemed to downplay the chances of that happening.
“No, we’re still going with that path, there’s still competition but Santana is certainly playing well at short. Paul [Molitor] said he’d like him to be there if he plays well and to this point he has. Escobar has had a fine spring and I’ve stated this many times. It’s going to be tough to get him out of that position because he played well last year and he played well this spring,” Ryan said. “I don’t think I’m prepared right now to tell you who is going to play center and I’m not prepared to tell you who is going to play short, but Hicks is certainly in the mix and Santana is in the mix.”
Later, Escobar saw some time in the outfield in an effort to get him comfortable with playing multiple positions off the bench, as Ryan explained to MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger and other reporters after the game.