Back in the offseason before the 2008 season, Johan Santana was on the trade block. The New York Yankees wanted the ace lefthander, however, they were reluctant to part with prospect Phil Hughes. Well, a few years later, the Minnesota Twins got their man. They signed the former Yankee right-hander to a three-year deal worth $24 million.
Hughes was called the “Pocket Rocket” when he was coming up, but never really lived up to the nickname. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like Hughes didn’t have great moments throughout his Yankee career. Hughes was the primary setup man for Mariano Rivera when the Yankees won their last World Series back in 2009 and was ELITE at it. The next season, he was an All-Star and went 18-8 with a 4.19 ERA. In 2012, he won 16 games for the Yankees.
Last season, in his contract year, was an absolute disaster. He seemed to lose all his confidence, especially at home. Hughes was 1-10 at Yankee Stadium with a 6.32 ERA. His last win for the Yankees was, ironically, against the Twins on July 2nd. Hughes also used to have great run support, something no Yankee pitcher really had in 2013.
Hughes should benefit in going to a bigger park. Hughes gave up 17 of his 24 home runs at Yankee stadium, a number that should drop by starting most of his games at Target Field. Hughes will be a part of a re-made rotation that includes fellow free agent pickup Ricky Nolasco.
So what do the Yankees do? They’ll fill his spot in the rotation. Right now it’s CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova as they wait for Hiroki Kuroda‘s decision and whether or not MLB and the NPB figure out the new posting system.
Good luck to Phil in Minnesota.