Going into tonight’s game in Oakland, New York Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes has a 1.69 career ERA there. O.co Coliseum is a fly-ball park, which is perfect for him to fully demonstrate his free-agent value.
Hughes, who is 3-4 with a 4.80 ERA in 12 starts this season, does not fit in Yankees Stadium long term. Last season, he gave up 22 home runs at home and he has given up seven already this year. Officials have said for a while now that in a different stadium and possibly in the typically weaker-hitting National League, he could have more success and be seen as more than the N0.4 starter he’s been for the majority of his career.
So with the Yankees’ grand plan to be at the $189 luxury tax by next year and Hughes’ impending free agency colliding, it seems like other teams will be willing to pay the 2010 All-Star more than the Yankees will.
The Yankees could be left with no compensation for his departure unless they extend a $13.3 million qualifying offer to him. If Hughes were to turn it down, the Yankees would then receive a first-round pick after he signed as a free agent with another team.
If he were to finish this season more along the lines of the way he did last year (16-13, 4.23 ERA), he could be in for a raise and it could be in the Yankees’ interest to make that qualifying offer, just like they did with Nick Swisher this past offseason, in order to acquire the first-round pick.
If the Yankees don’t intend to make that qualifier, then maybe they should consider trading him now, especially with David Phelps, Vidal Nuno, and Ivan Nova vying for sports in the back of the starting rotation and with Michael Pineda nearing closer to a return.
Most likely, they will keep Hughes through the end of the year. Starting tonight, then, he will prove to a team with a larger ballpark like the New York Mets what he can be when he is in his element.