In claiming Hughes, Philadelphia absorbs the roughly $531K still owed to the right-hander for the remainder of the season. Hughes is in the last guaranteed season of a two-year, $4.5MM contract, though the Phillies have a club option on his services (for $3MM with a $250K buyout) for the 2020 season. For the present, Hughes is a relatively low-cost pickup for a Phillies team that has sorely needed some help for its injury-riddled bullpen, though Hughes hasn’t been in the best of form in recent weeks.
After an outstanding debut year in Cincinnati that saw him post a 1.94 ERA over 78 2/3 innings, Hughes came back to earth in 2019, posting a 4.10 ERA, 6.3 K/9, and 1.79 K/BB rate over 48 1/3 frames. The extreme ground-ball pitcher has continued to keep the ball out of the air, as evidenced by a 60.7% grounder rate, but he has suffered when batters have gotten some arc — Hughes has a 20% homer/fly ball rate, far above his 12.3% career average.
Despite the extra homers, however, Hughes only really started to run into some struggles recently. He had a 2.88 ERA as late as July 24 before enduring a nightmarish inning against the Rockies on July 26 that saw him allow six runs. That began a stretch of six outings that saw Hughes post a 10.57 ERA over 7 2/3 innings of work, with as many walks (five) as strikeouts, and not a single home run allowed to account for that damage. Hughes also served a three-game suspension for his role in the already-infamous brawl between the Reds and Pirates on July 30.
The Reds have been one of the league’s more active teams since the trade deadline, particularly on the pitching front. Cincinnati claimed Kevin Gausman off waivers from the Braves, signed veterans Brad Boxberger, Junichi Tazawa and Tim Collins to minor league contracts, and parted ways with Hughes and David Hernandez. Since it seemed Hughes was no longer in the club’s plans for 2020, the Reds save a bit of cash by letting him go to the Phillies now rather than paying a buyout at season’s end.