I like Phil Hughes. He was always good to me in Scranton, and always good to me in New York. He remained easy to get along with whether he was an elite prospect, an all-star starter, a frustrated guy on the disabled list, or a struggling starter being booed off the mound at Yankee Stadium. I like the guy, he just didn’t pitch well.
It was there at times — the big fastball, the put-away curve; two seasons with at least 16 wins — but Hughes never found the consistency that would let him live up to massive expectations. Not even close, actually. He seemed to be heading that way in 2010, then took a massive step back in 2011, put some things back in order in 2012, and then had a 2013 walk year to forget. Brutal. Yankees couldn’t even make a qualifying offer to get a draft pick out of him.
But Hughes also has pretty decent timing, because the starting pitching market is awfully bad.
Josh Johnson, who’s two years older than Hughes and coming off an even worse season, just got $8 million from the Padres. Dan Haren, who’s been trending the wrong way for two years now, got $10 million from the Dodgers. Jason Vargas, who’s steady but certainly not overwhelming, got four years from the Royals.
In that market, George King reports that Hughes seems to be in line for a two-year deal worth roughly $15 million. The Twins have emerged as an early candidate after already signing a four-year deal with Ricky Nolasco (whose 4.37 career ERA isn’t that much better than Hughes’ 4.54). I like Hughes, and I hope he does well, but there’s absolutely no reason to believe he’ll have another chance in the Bronx.
Associated Press photo