Sep 25, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Phil Hughes (65) pitches during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Indians Offseason Target: Phil Hughes

Phil Hughes: More Bang for Your Buck?

It’s the winter, which means baseball is not being played in Major League Baseball stadiums. There is crying, wailing and gnashing of teeth. But crucial moves are being pondered by GMs throughout the league to prepare for 2014. But, not all trades and free agent signings are blockbuster moves. As Indians fans saw in 2013, often overlooked guys end up contributing just as much as some of the big-name players.

Over the winter Wahoo’s on First will focus on all types of players who could be available via trade or free agency. I will keep with the site’s custom and follow Steve Kinsella’s free agent terminology, as he has uses three lists – a “Sexy List” (top-level free agents who likely only land in Cleveland if the price is right), a “Ruggedly Handsome List” (players who may draw significant interest from teams, but won’t be as pricey or require long-term deals) and the “Ugly List” (dumpster diving and hoping to find a treasure). Today’s target is former New York Yankees RHP Phil Hughes

Free Agent List: Ruggedly Handsome

2013 Salary/Contact Status: In his final year of arbitration, Phil Hughes made $7.5 million from the Yankees, who had moved on from thinking the 27-year old RHP was going to become dominant and was simply looking for another above-average year out of him. He struggled mightily at home in Yankee Stadium (.909 OPS against him in New York, .735 away from home, and 17 HRs allowed at home). He did crack the 100 IP barrier for just the third time in his seven-year career and finished with 145.2 IP.

Past Three Seasons: After returning from a mysterious shoulder injury in mid-2011, Hughes has been in the Yankees rotation, for better or for worse. The former first-round pick had his shine dimmed by a laundry list of other injuries and mediocre performance when he was pitching. Yankee Stadium has not been kind to Hughes, having pitched 356.1 IP there in his career and giving up 71 HRs and a 4.82 ERA. So why is he ruggedly handsome? Oh yeah, he won’t turn 28 until June 24.

Why Cleveland? Beause they need to sign all the starting pitchers Because he’s a 27-year old starting pitcher with a pulse? Because if I’m the Indians and I’m willing to gamble money on the free agent pitching market, I want to gamble for the most bang for my buck. Phil Hughes may simply be a journeyman starting pitcher, but he’s on the right side of 30. It may be worth holding out hope that the light comes on and 2014 will be the year he makes things click. Cleveland could be a nice change of pace for Hughes after the spotlight/microscope of New York. Maybe he and Nick Swisher are bros or something.

Type of contract: A one-year deal might actually appeal to Phil Hughes. He’s had injury issues so he may go for the safe play and hold out for a multi-year deal, but I can’t imagine too many teams would be willing to go past two years for his services anyways. He will turn 28 in June, and with a one-year deal could re-enter the market with hopefully stronger barging position. I’d offer a one-year, $10 million dollar deal with whatever incentives you want or perhaps even something like two years and $16 million. Hughes can decide how much a multi-year deal is worth to him. For Cleveland, there’s a decent chance they get an above-average starting pitcher worth about 2 wins, and maybe even production better than that out of Phil Hughes.

For a full list of offseason targets on Wahoo’s on First, please click here.

Tags: Cleveland Indians Free Agents Hot Stove New York Yankees Phil Hughes

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