According to reports, the New York Mets are more interested in Phil Hughes than they are in Bronson Arroyo. Earlier reports had linked the Mets to Arroyo but it seems the interest in Arroyo around baseball might drive up the price of his contract in both money and years. Hughes would make much more sense for the Mets than Arroyo at this point for several reasons.
Hughes is only 27-years-old and will turn 28 in June, making him the youngest free agent on the market. Hughes can afford to settle for a one-year deal to reestablish his value before hitting the market again. Citi Field isn’t exactly a hitter’s park so Hughes and his agents could see the ballpark as a draw to help boost the right-hander’s numbers before hitting the market again. While heading to the Mets makes a lot of sense for Hughes, the signing would also make sense for the Mets.
While Hughes is coming off of his worst year of his career he is still young and isn’t that far removed from being one of the top prospects in the game. While he may not ever regain that form there is still enough talent in his arm to be a solid, middle of the rotation arm.
In 2012, Hughes went 16-13 with a 4.23 ERA and 1.26 WHIP and also featured a 7.8 K/9 ratio. In 2010, Hughes went 18-8 with a 4.19 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 7.5 K/9 ratio. Those aren’t ace-like numbers but they are solid numbers especially when you consider Hughes, who is a flyball pitcher, was pitching the majority of his games in Yankee Stadium.
Away from both the new and old Yankee Stadia, Hughes has held hitters to a .245/.306/.384 line. At home, Hughes has been hit to the tune of .274/.328/.479. He has allowed 76 home runs at home and just 36 on the road. He also has featured a 4.10 ERA on the road and 4.96 ERA at home. If you are thinking those numbers are skewed because he has played more games at home you would be wrong. He has appeared in just eight more games at home than he has on the road.
Because of his terrible year, it is unlikely that Hughes will see a multi-year deal come his way unless the market really goes nuts, which could happen. He will probably be offered a decent base salary with escalators and performance clauses that could boost his deal and allow him to reset his value before hitting the market once more.
Given the fact that the Mets play half their games in a forgiving ballpark and generally face weaker lineups than Hughes has faced in the AL East, Hughes could have a very nice bounce back year and fill in admirably for the injured Matt Harvey. Will he win a Cy Young? No, absolutely not. However, Hughes could fortify the Mets’ rotation and could possibly pitch well enough to either be a trade deadline candidate to bring in some prospects or could pitch his way into a multi-year deal from the Mets or another team.
Signing Hughes could be a win-win situation for both parties. Expectations won’t be great from the fans, the Mets or Hughes. He would essentially be allowed to just pitch and know that a lot of the mistakes he has been prone to make might not be leaving the yard as often as they did in Yankee Stadium. On a one-year deal, Hughes makes sense for the Mets.