The Minnesota Twins have a few holes to fill this offseason. Among the priorities this winter is improving a rotation that was, to put it nicely, awful last season. The Twins starters surrendered 788 runs, good enough to finish second to last in baseball, just ahead of the Houston Astros. The Twins have already contacted the agents for several free agent pitchers including Phil Hughes.
Hughes is an intriguing option this offseason for many teams. Yes, he is coming off of a season that saw him post a 5.19 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and 4-14 record and a WAR of -0.7 and only striking out 121 in 145.2 innings. However, Hughes is still just 27 and won’t turn 28 until June. He is also one year removed from a season that saw him go 16-13 with a 1.26 WHIP, 4.23 ERA and 1.5 WAR.
Hughes is not far removed from being one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball and is still young enough to reclaim at least some of that promise. Hughes’ biggest problem in recent years has been giving up the long ball. Yankee Stadium was just not the best environment for the right-hander.
Hughes did win 18 games in 2010 while posting a 4.19 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 1.9 WAR. Returning to that pitcher wouldn’t be a stretch in Minnesota where the bigger ballpark should cut down on Hughes’ propensity for giving up the longball.
If the Twins are genuinely interested they won’t be alone in their pursuit. The San Diego Padres could be interested in the California native and the Kansas City Royals could be interested as well. At this point, it looks like the New York Yankees are not interested in bringing Hughes back. That should keep the bidding down but the question is whether or not the Twins see Hughes as a long-term solution, temporary stop-gap or were merely doing their due diligence.