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Is it worth trading Phil Hughes?

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One opposing executive’s evaluation of the Yankees at the trade deadline: “They’re in a bad spot.”

They’re in the playoff hunt, but hardly a favorite. They have young talent, but most of it’s too far from the big leagues to have maximum trade value. They have contracts they’d like to unload, but most are basically untradeable. Getting rid of their truly valuable pieces would mean punting on the season, which they aren’t going to do.

With the deadline now less than six hours away, the Yankees likely won’t be aggressive one way or the other. They won’t be blockbuster buyers or overhaul sellers. Two names that fit that sort of in between mode: Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes.

Once seen as key pieces of the future, Chamberlain and Hughes could be expendable if the Yankees could actually get something in return. Both are heading toward free agency, neither has been consistent this season, and both could be replaced by in-house options.

“Hughes (has more value) than Joba but both (are) fairly limited,” another opposing executive said. “Hughes fits as rental for clubs that don’t get a better starter.”

Chamberlain has basically become the last man in the Yankees bullpen, so it’s little surprise he’s seen as having little value. One scout called him “emotionally immature” enough to make any contending team hesitant to trade for him and put him in a significant role.

“You don’t trust the impact,” the first executive said. “(With right-handed relievers), if you don’t have the best guy, it’s not a give-away market, but it’s certainly not a good market.”

Hughes, on the other hand, is seen as having some value for the right team. But even then, the return might not be significant.

“I think there’s value in Hughes because of his age and he does have some upside,” a scout said. “If he gets out of New York and everything that goes with that, he should pitch better. … Maybe he goes somewhere, pitches well like Ian Kennedy, finds a home and decides to sign there. Could be more than a two month rental for them.”

An A.L. executive pointed out that the Yankees can get value out of Hughes without trading him. The executive said he still thinks Hughes is worth a qualifying offer this offseason. At worst, it’s a one-year overpay, but Hughes would have legitimate reason to think he might get a multi-year deal, which would net a Yankees draft pick. Hughes’ age, experience and stuff would generate legitimate free agent interest, the executive said, but maybe not as much trade interest.

“Impact in a race is hard to predict,” the executive said. “He’s hard to rely on.”

Associated Press photo