Phil Hughes was two years away from free agency, but both he and the Twins realized that they wanted to work something out for the long-term. Earlier today, the Twins announced a three-year extension that will pay him an additional $42MM, giving the right-hander a pact that will take him through the 2019 season. The deal gives Hughes job security, a healthy payday in the here and now, and also allows him the opportunity to cash in again at the age of 32. As our own Steve Adams pointed out this afternoon, Hughes is on track to hit the open market again at roughly the same age as James Shields is this winter. On a conference call earlier today, I asked Hughes about the importance of getting a deal that could allow him to land another hefty multi-year contract down the line.
“That’s the benefit of coming into the league at the age of 20, I put some service time behind me so even after this contract, I’ll be 32, 33, but that’s something for another day,” Hughes said. “I haven’t even begun to think about my next deal, this is five years away and I have a lot of things I want to accomplish. After that, we’ll see where we’re at.”
Hughes knows that he could have boosted his value even further by continuing on his previous deal, but he would have had “a little bit more of a struggle” in talking agent Nez Balelo into greenlighting an extension one year away from free agency. The 28-year-old is clearly comfortable in Minnesota and spoke glowingly of the team’s potential in the years to come. He was effusive in his praise of the roster, from promising youngsters like Danny Santana and Kennys Vargas to veterans like Ervin Santana and Torii Hunter.
“I didn’t want it to be where I came in for three years, kind of saw this team get back on the right track and then said, ’Thanks for everything. Thanks for having faith in me, but see you later.’ I wanted to be part of this for years to come, and I believe in the process and the direction that this team is going,” said the hurler.
As GM Terry Ryan put it, the extension called for “some risk on both parties.” While Hughes passed up a chance to bet on himself and possibly earn more after the 2016 season, the Twins are making a sizable commitment to the right-hander and banking on the kind of pitching that he delivered in 2014. For his part, Hughes is confident that he will continue to excel while warming up to the idea of a veteran leadership role at such a young age.