sad pandaMy offseason-long quest (apparently) to push the Chicago Cubs to sign 27-year-old free agent righty Phil Hughes has come to an abrupt close, with a report from the Star Tribune indicating that the Minnesota Twins have agreed to terms with Hughes. Fresh off signing Ricky Nolasco to a reasonable four-year deal, the Twins now get Hughes on what appears to me to be a fantastic deal. Crap on a cracker.

Hughes will reportedly receive three years and $24 million, a deal in the annual dollar range expected, but much longer than expected. Why Hughes, just 27, would want a three-year deal coming off such a down year in New York is a mystery to me. Maybe he’s not confident that he can live up to his peripherals or his pre-2013 performance by “proving it” in 2014. And maybe there are other issues of which I’m not aware.

… but I’m pretty disappointed. To be sure, Hughes could turn out to be a pumpkin. But a $24 million investment is hardly much of a risk when three prime years of a righty with a good arm is payoff on the other side of that risk. Hughes need only be a capable back-of-the-rotation starter to satisfy the value of his contract, and he has the upside to be much more. I’ve made my interest in Hughes for the Cubs no secret, and this would have been a perfectly reasonable signing. In fact, had the Cubs landed Hughes on a deal like this, I probably would have cheered it wildly. Even in a scenario where the Cubs don’t project to be competitive in 2014, having Hughes around in 2015 and 2016 wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, especially because his salary isn’t going to drag you down. That is all to say that, even if The Plan dictates further reduced spending this year and a non-competitive season in 2014, grabbing Hughes on this deal would not have been in conflict with that agenda.

But hey, maybe the Cubs are interested in adding only one starting pitcher this offseason and they’ve marshaled all of their resources to get Masahiro Tanaka. Or maybe Tanaka and Korean righty Suk-Min Yoon. Or maybe the money’s all going to a couple bats. Or maybe the Cubs simply didn’t like Hughes. Or maybe Hughes simply really liked Minnesota (and the spacious confines of Target Field). We’ll probably never know. I guess 28 other teams didn’t sign him for this deal either.

All I know right now is that the deal Hughes reportedly just got from the Twins looks like a great risk for them. Kudos.

  • Sparks

    For what it’s worth, I think that what the Cubs (and Astros and others) is very much like what the Black Sox did back in the day. The Black Sox threw games for cash because they thought Comisky didn’t pay them enough. The Cubs (and others) are deliberately losing SEASONS so they will get a higher draft pick. (I want to go on record as saying that the players are doing their best to win- they are just not good enough).
    There IS one really big difference, though. What the Cubs and the others are doing is perfectly legal and acceptable under Major League rules.
    I just simply think that deliberatly losing should not be rewarded, and the draft rules should be changed. I do know that these rules were made to improve parity- to make it possible for a bad team to improve.
    Now you may call me a Troll if you like.

    • Brett

      The only “troll-like” thing you said was the final sentence, asking to be called a troll.

      As for the substance, if the Cubs were literally trying to lose as many games as possible, they could be doing a much better job. They still have a whole lot of talent for a team trying to lose (compare their roster to the Astros, who aren’t really in the same conversation), and they should immediately stop signing free agents.

    • Kevin B

      How silly. So the draft rules should be changed? How? Have winning teams pick first? How dumb would that be? What is your idea? And the cubs or astros losing is like the black sox? White sox and twins pick before the cubs so I guess the tried to lose too? And you admit that the players are trying but you compare them to the black sox?

      You are truly an idiot .

      • Kevin B

        Should not have called you an idiot. I take that part back. I am sure you are speaking out of frustration. Sorry.

        • Brett

          Thank you for correcting yourself.

  • Sparks

    I will agree with you if they sigh any significant free agents- and do not flip them before the trading deadline. However, I still do not like a system that rewards losing. But, sorry, I do not have a better idea to achieve parity. ( I know that the NLBPA will never agree to salary caps.)

  • Sparks

    “sign any significant free agents.” I’m the one that is sighing.

    • Kevin B

      Fair enough. Who do you think they should sign? You like any of the relievers on the market?

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  • Kevin B

    Brett I was interested in Hughes as well. Similar reasons. He also was a very effective reliever in the past. That may be a bit pricey for a reliever but even if he did not work out as a starter he still would have value as a reliever in my opinion so that would be useful too. 3 years 24 mil. I would have liked that

    But Brett do you think he would have picked the Cubs over the Twins for the same money? Ithink he has a better opportunity to stick in that rotation then the Cubs? Plus its a better pitchers park

    • Brett

      I definitely think, for the same contract, the Twins may have been more attractive than the Cubs. Neither team looks ready to compete in the next year or two (but bright future thereafter), but the park is better for him, he may like the AL, and there’s absolutely no question he’s got a spot in their rotation.

  • Sparks

    Kevin- No, I am not comparing the players to the Black Sox. I thought I made that clear. I am comparing the Front Office to the Black Sox to the extent that both groups lose, one group for cash, the other for better draft picks. And, yes I include the Twins and the White Sox too. I just feel that every team should always do their best to win every game possible. (Including the Front Office.) If that were true, there would be nothing wrong withe the present draft system. I am not knowledgable enough to say who they should have signed. I defininately do not think they should have signed Puholts or fielder.(sorry for the spelling.) . .

  • Kevin B

    But if they would have signed Pujos for that monster contract then the Cubs would be stuck with it the way the Angels are stuck now. You know the Angels regret that signing.

    Fielder, the Tigers just traded him and send around $30 million dollars to Texas to take that contract off their hands.

    Neither Pujos nor Fielder would have done the Cubs any good, they may have won a few more games the past few years but they would be an albertros and dead weight in 2015 and beyond, when the kids start getting in the regular lineup, so in the long run it would hurt the Cubs chances to win.

  • Sparks

    I agree. I think I said above that I would NOT have signed Pujos of Fielder. One thing I would NOT have done is trade Soriano to the Yankees just to save a little salary.

    • Kevin B

      You are correct Sparks, I read your comment the wrong way, you said you would not have signed Pujols or Fielder and obviously I agree with you

  • Sparks

    Pujos OR Fielder. We really do need an edit button.

    • Funn Dave

      Would you use it more than you use the reply button? 😛

      • Sparks

        Thanks, I never noticed that it was there. I will use it henseforth.

  • Ryan

    Honestly, I don’t really mind the Cubs missing out on Hughes. Assuming, of course, that they’re still in (and serious) about Tanaka. I know that getting Tanaka seems like a long-shot given the FO’s statements on salary constraints this off-season, but consider:

    – Signing Shark to an extension now would cost what, 5/$75m? Assuming Tanaka gets Darvish money, then the 5-year cost for Tanaka is around $100m. Assuming that Shark and Tanaka post similar numbers over the next 5 years (a big if, but not out of line with current projections) then this means whatever package of prospects Shark nets you costs $5m/AAV over the next five years. According to the current estimated WAR worth of $5.26m, then getting just 1.0 WAR out of the package you net for Shark would mean that the Cubs would be in the black on the deal. Given that whatever Shark brings would be better than the package for Garza (think similar deal but with a TOR prospect in place of Neil Ramirez), then netting 1.0 WAR seems really conservative.

    However, there’s every possibility that with the Dodgers / Yankees etc in on Tanaka, the 5-year cost could push $150m instead of $100m. Which would make it a much closer call, but still, if you get 3.0 WAR on average over the next 5 years out of the package you get for Shark, you’re still ahead. Something to think about, anyway.

    Plus, the Cubs have plenty of BOT SP prospects that, from a long-term perspective, it would be good for the Cubs to get a longer look at. Maybe you get another Travis Wood type out of the Hendricks/Grimm/Arrietta/Rusin crowd, which would be really valuable for the team.

  • Voice of Reason

    They will not sign Tanaka.

    When he is signed by another team we will learn that they were in on the bidding. There are other teams that have a much more sense of urgency to sign him.

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