YESTERDAY: The Twins have designated righty Phil Hughes, per a club announcement (as Phil Miller of the Star Tribune was among those to tweet). Manager Paul Molitor says the organization has not asked whether Hughes would waive his right to reject a minor-league assignment, as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports on Twitter.
It seems, then, as if this is the beginning of the end of Hughes’s tenure in Minnesota. The club will have seven days to find a taker via trade. Otherwise, Hughes will go on the waiver wire. He’s sure to clear, given his contract, though he would not need to accept an assignment to Triple-A in order to keep the money he’s guaranteed.
The Twins still owe Hughes the balance of a $13.2MM salary this year and another $13.2MM for the 2019 season. That’s what’s left of the five-year extension he signed in December of 2014, which overwrote the rest of the three-year deal that Hughes signed with Minnesota as a free agent in the prior winter.
Students of hot stove history will recall that sequence rather well. Hughes had seemed likely to sign a make-good deal after a disappointing end to his tenure with the Yankees in 2013. But he went with a $24MM guarantee over a trio of campaigns with Minnesota, then made good on the contract in year one by spinning 209 2/3 innings of 3.52 ERA ball, with an unbelievable 186:16 K/BB ratio.
Unfortunately, the second pact — which boosted Hughes’s overall compensation while expanding the team’s control — just never worked out. He turned in 155 1/3 innings of 4.40 ERA pitching in 2015, but since has managed only a 5.99 ERA in 124 2/3 frames.
Health has been a major factor in recent seasons. Hughes requried two significant procedures to address thoracic outlet procedure, ending both his 2016 and 2017 seasons. He also dealt with knee and biceps injuries.