Monday, May 28, 2018

Phil Hughes and the money

There was a taker for Phil Hughes' contract, or at least some of it, after all.

The Twins on Sunday traded Hughes to San Diego. On the face of it, it's pretty much all subtraction:

That pick was tradable because it's a competitive balance pick. And while the amount of cash the Twins are sending with Hughes wasn't announced, it's been reported to be quite a bit, with the Padres assuming only about $6 million to $7 million of the $20 million or so left on his contract.

Now that we've set the technical details, let's break this deal down to two component parts:

I would like to be wrong on this, but the Padres overpaid on the first half of this trade. The current version of Phil Hughes is not worth $6 million. (San Diego is a pretty good landing spot for Hughes, and I hope he does well there.)

I would like to be wrong on the second part as well, but there's a better chance the 74th player in next month's draft will be a productive major leaguer than there is for Villalobos. Plus deleting more than $800,000 from the bonus pool figures to constrict the Twins' draft flexibility.

Villalobos is 21 and hasn't gotten out of Rookie ball in the San Diego organization. He's going to be on a short-season team again this year, presumably Elizabethton in the Appy League. You can look at his stats in the above link, but Rookie level numbers don't mean much. 

When the Twins DFA'd Hughes last week, Derek Falvey mentioned that principal owner Jim Pohlad signed off on the decision. I suspect that getting ownership's OK to write off $20 million required Falvey to agree to make minimizing that write off a priority. (I also suspect that the late signings of Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison put the Twins over budget on this year's payroll, which may be another reason to emphasize for the savings.)

It's not my money, and we have no idea what talent the Twins will lose out on for Villalobos. But I think the Twins would probably have been better off eating the full term of Hughes' contract and keeping the draft pick. 

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