Dec 22, 2014 11:59 AM
Phil Hughes, Twins agree to $58M, 5-year contract
The Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Phil Hughes finished his first season in Minnesota one out shy of a $500,000 bonus. His new deal with the Twins more than takes care of that.
The Twins and the 28-year-old right-hander agreed Monday to a $58 million, five-year contract that adds $42 million in guaranteed money from 2017-19.
Hughes went 16-10 with a 3.52 ERA and led the major leagues among qualifying pitchers with an 11.63 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He had been scheduled to make $8 million each of the next two seasons as part of a $24 million, three-year contract he signed as a free agent after leaving the New York Yankees.
He will make $9.2 million in each of the next two years and $13.2 million annually from 2017-19. The deal includes $200,000 per year if he reaches 200 innings pitched and a limited no-trade provision in which he can designate three teams each year that he cannot be traded to without his permission. He would have full no-trade rights after 2018 as a 10-year veteran who has spent five seasons with his current team.
"I didn't want it to be a deal where I came in for three years, saw this team get back on the right track, and then, 'Thanks for everything, thanks for having faith in me, and see you later,' " Hughes said. "I want to be part of this for years to come. I believe in the process and the direction this team is going. I'm very excited that I can be a part of that change."
In what was another long season for the Twins' starting rotation, Hughes was the one guy the team could rely on each time he took the mound. He was coming off a woeful season with the Yankees in which he went 4-14 with a 5.19 ERA and he had given up 59 home runs over his previous two seasons. Hughes was revitalized in pitcher-friendly Target Field.
Hughes allowed 16 homers and walked 16 batters, becoming the sixth pitcher in baseball history to walk fewer than 20 batters while pitching at least 200 innings in a season.
As part of the original deal he signed with the Twins before last season, Hughes would have received a $500,000 bonus for reaching 210 innings pitched. But he finished with 209 2-3 and turned down a chance to pitch out of the bullpen over the final weekend of the season to earn the extra money.
That decision resonated with Twins GM Terry Ryan, who acknowledged the team is taking some risk by going five years for a pitcher.
"That made an impact on me," Ryan said. "Knowing what kind of integrity Phil has. Don't think I didn't let that cross my mind. You're looking to invest in a player, you're always looking for a guy that's got makeup, and Phil has makeup. I don't think there's a better example than him giving up a half-million dollars."
It was another bold move for the struggling Twins, who have lost at least 90 games in each of the last four seasons. They spent $55 million to land free agent starter Ervin Santana on a four-year deal and also have outfielder Torii Hunter $10.5 million for a one-year deal to return to the organization where he got his start.
But Hughes is also taking a risk. Pitcher salaries are sky-rocketing across the majors, and another strong season in Minnesota would've set him up for an even bigger payday. But Hughes approached agent Nez Balelo once the season ended and told him to try to get a deal done now.
"I think this is big for a player to do what he did," Balelo said, "and take the bull by the horns and say, 'look, I'm comfortable, I'm happy and I want to stick with an organization for a long time.'"
AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report.