A couple of short, but important, news items on the docket today. Both Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain avoid arbitration, both agreeing to one-year deals. For Hughes it was his last trip through arbitration, as he is eligible for free agency after this season. As for Chamberlain, this is also his last time through arbitration before becoming a free agent. So the Yankees have some thinking to do before doling out multi-year deals for both of these pitchers.
For Hughes, he agreed to a one-year, $7.15 million contract, which is a nice raise of $3.75 million, according to the Associated Press. Last year, the righthander pitched to a 4.23 ERA (4.35 xFIP) while compiling a 16-13 record for the Yankees. It was a vast improvement over the tumultuous 2011 season where he battled “arm fatigue” and had a ERA north of 5, putting doubt into whether he could tap into the promise he showed when he was in the minors. While he’ll most likely never be the bonafide #1 starter many pegged him to be, he’s a solid 3-4 starter for the Yankees.
Chamberlain, too, avoided arbitration by signing a one-year pact for $1.875M. His deal includes incentives and bonuses for games finished, according to the AP. Chamberlain missed most of 2012 after suffering an elbow injury that carried over from the 2011 season and also a horrific ankle injury during Spring Training (non-baseball related). In his limited time with the club he pitched to a 4.35 ERA (3.55 xFIP) in 20.2 innings pitched.
Seems like yesterday these two were part of the Big Three, which also included Ian Kennedy, of highly touted Yankees pitchers coming up through the minors together. Hughes was compared to Roger Clemens in make and build, while Joba was heralded as the heir apparent to closer Mariano Rivera‘s throne. Neither have quite lived up to expectations and the blame can partly be pointed to how the Yankees organization handled their young arms (in Joba’s case), and not fully dedicating one’s self (in Hughes’ case). While they aren’t the haul the Yankees were looking and hoping for, they’re great (cheap) pieces to have.