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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

SHOULD THE YANKEES EXTEND PHIL HUGHES' CONTRACT?

With the signing of Kevin Youkilis, the Yankees need to find a catcher, a right fielder, and a right handed outfielder who can come off the bench before they can call it an off-season. The catcher vacancy could solve itself, as I could see a Francisco Cervelli/Austin Romine competition in Spring Training. The right field problem could be resolved here pretty quickly as the Yanks are closing in on signing Ichiro (read ICHIRO DEAL WITH YANKEES “LIKELY” ). The Yankees could then sign Scott Hairston, who would be a great fit off the bench as a righty bat, to conclude the off-season. Anyway, this post doesn’t involve just 2013, it involves the years beyond it.
Fast forwarding to 2014; I see only one starting pitcher on the current roster who is guaranteed to be in the starting rotation, and that is CC Sabathia. I’d bet that both Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda are gone after 2013, as the former could retire, while the latter could go back to Japan and pitch one more season there. David Phelps and Ivan Nova, like it or not, are still question marks. 2013 will be a big year for both guys. Finally, we have no idea how Michael Pineda will do coming off his shoulder surgery. For all we know, he could comeback and never be the same or not even pitch in 2013 altogether. So, this brings us to Phil Hughes. He is a free agent after the 2013 season, and with all the potential holes in the 2014 rotation, should the Yankees try to extend his contract?
2012 was arguably Hughes’ best season as a starter (You can make a case for 2010), as he led the team in wins with 16 while posting a decent 4.23 ERA. On top of that, he had very solid strikeout (7.8 K/9) and walk (2.2 BB/9) rates while logging a career-high 32 starts and 191.1 innings. However, the home runs are a concern, as he allowed 32 of them, third most in all of baseball. Hughes has also never put together back-to-back seasons like this – mainly because of injuries and/or ineffectiveness – and he’s yet to really pitch a full season in which his overall results stand out to the point where everyone clamors for his contract to get extended, so you can say it would be a bit of a risk if the Yankees do end up extending his contract.

Now, if the Yankees take the risk in trying to extend his contract, what is a deal that could work? I was thinking something in the range of three years at around $12 million per year. Maybe add an extra year and a few more bucks, but you get the idea. With this hypothetical extension, you’re covering years 2014-2016 and ages 28-30, so you’ll likely get peak seasons out of him at a reasonable salary. Of course there are two sides to contract negotiations, and Hughes can simply choose to wait this out until next year, but then it’ll be fair game for everyone to try and sign him.
If Phil does become a free agent, I can totally see him ending up in Southern California as an Angel or a Padre. Hell, you can’t count out the Dodgers these days with free agents, so I suppose they’d be in the mix as well, though their rotation seems to be set for the next couple of years. Either way, he's from Southern California, those first two teams have needs in their respective rotations while those some teams sport fly ball-friendly ballparks, something Phil could benefit from. Anyway, with the question marks in the Yankee rotation come 2014, it would be nice if the team could solve one of those problems by taking a risk and re-signing Hughes while he’s still relatively cheap and theoretically has his best seasons ahead of him.
 


--Jesse Schindler, BYB Lead Staff Writer
Follow me on Twitter @SchindlerJesse


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