Lukewarm Stove: Inappropriately Large Volumes of Phil Hughes Discussion

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Lukewarm Stove: Inappropriately Large Volumes of Phil Hughes Discussion

Chicago Cubs

lukewarm stoveHopefully you can still reach your phone, despite being pressed in line at a Black Friday sale between an angry mom clutching the last Hug-Me-Elmo and a despondent father wondering if there’s a difference between “small” and “petite” …

  • After signing Ricky Nolasco, the Twins are turning their pitching focus to … Phil Hughes, per Jerry Crasnick. I’ve been relatively vocal in my desire to see the Cubs pursue Hughes on a reasonable, short-term deal, and it’s disappointing to learn that the Nolasco signing has not impacted the Twins’ pursuit at all.
  • The New York Mets, on the other hand, are out on Phil Hughes, primarily because he’s expected to command a two-year deal, and they didn’t want to go past one year. I find that Adam Rubin/George King report interesting on so many levels, the primary of which is that Hughes actually wants a two-year deal. Coming off of a disastrous 2013 season that featured a HR/FB rate higher than his career average, a BABIP much higher than his career average, and a LOB% lower than his career average, Hughes looks to be a prime candidate for a bounce-back season in 2014. And, as a 27-year-old, you’d think he’d be the perfect candidate to want no more than a one-year deal in free agency so that he could capitalize on a theoretical bounce-back next year.
  • If Hughes affirmatively wants a two-year deal, I mean, that’s fine by me, and I hope even more that the Cubs are involved. The team – and pitching coach Chris Bosio – has had recent success dramatically improving the groundball rates of guys like Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson, the prospect of an extreme flyball guy like Hughes in Wrigley Field doesn’t really scare me. That all said – and I know I am really harping on Hughes this offseason – it seems to me that the best outcome for Hughes is a one-year deal with a team like the Cubs, who will not only look to help him bounce-back and cash in, but is also a strong bet to trade him mid-season, thus decoupling him from the noose of draft pick compensation.
  • Rubin’s report lists the Angels, Twins, Mariners, and Royals to Hughes. Jesse Rogers previously connected the Cubs to Hughes. Given how pitching needy the Angels and Twins are, and given the Royals’ and Mariners’ penchant for head-scratching contracts, it’s easy to see why the involved teams could be pushing for a multi-year deal with Hughes, rather than a one-year pact. If Hughes truly wants more years than one, it wouldn’t shock me to see one of the involved teams go to three years on Hughes. If that team were to be the Cubs – and there are worse things than grabbing ages 27, 28, and 29 from a guy with a live arm and intriguing peripherals.
  • I’d intended for this to be a traditional, multi-topic Lukewarm Stove, but, after four items on Hughes, I guess I’ll just stick to my apparent pet obsession of the offseason, and let it devolve into a bizarre stream of consciousness. Be reminded that, outside of one report from Jesse Rogers and my own deductive speculation, there is nothing directly connecting the Cubs to Hughes this offseason. For all we know, they’ve done their internal evaluation and determined that he’s not a good bet – and, as always, it depends on the contract. But one year and $10 million, two years and $18 million, or three years and $26 million? (At least one source tells the NY Post that two years and $15 million isn’t out of the question – if so, JUMP.)
  • If these prices are even in the ballpark for Hughes, I’d be frustrated to learn that the Cubs weren’t involved. Sure, he’s mostly a two-pitch guy (so there are concerns with his ability to work deep into games), but he’s been punished by pitching at Yankee Stadium perhaps more than any other pitcher. Home runs did him in last year, and a huge chunk of them were apparently of the “just out” variety – the kind that might not have been homers in another park. He sits in the 92 to 93 mph range, and has a K/BB of 3.25 over the last two years. There’s a lot to dream on. And the kind of investment it sounds like he’ll command is a pretty small risk for a pitching-needy, potentially non-competitive, team like the Cubs.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.