Last night it was reported that the Milwaukee Brewers were close to signing former Pirates’ righty Jared Hughes. Today that move was made official when the Brewers announced via Twitter that Hughes had been signed to a one-year contract. Hughes had previously signed a one-year, $2.83 mil deal with Pittsburgh over the winter to avoid arbitration but was cut loose with just a few days left in spring training. According to Tom Haudricourt, Hughes' deal with Milwaukee will pay him a modest $950,000 base salary with another $250,000 worth of incentives for games pitched.
Hughes will become the final piece of Milwaukee’s Opening Day roster, as the club also formally announced the option of Tyler Cravy to AAA Colorado Springs and the reassignments of Rob Scahill, Eric Sogard, Ivan De Jesus, Jr., and Rene Garcia to the Sky Sox. Here is how it all shook out, including 9 players making their first Opening Day rosters:
Hughes will serve as another veteran presence on a pitching staff filled with a combination of youth and uncertainty. The 31 year old is a veteran of parts of six major league seasons, having tossed 309.1 innings for the Pirates covering 313 appearances dating back to 2011. He has been largely successful in terms of his run prevention, authoring a 2.82 career ERA. Hughes is a ground ball specialist, having induced them at a 62% clip throughout his career. He doesn’t miss many bats, however, with just a career 5.50 K/9. Both his walk rate of 3.3 BB/9 and ground ball rate of 57.9% last season were the second worst marks of his career and his hard contact rate against of 30.1% was the highest total he’s ever allowed. Neither FIP (4.09) nor DRA (3.48) feel that his true talent has been quite as good as his career ERA indicates. Last season he posted a 3.03 ERA/4.08 DRA/4.72 FIP in 59.1 innings covering 67 appearances. He was released by Pittsburgh after coughing up an 11.57 ERA in 9.1 innings this spring.
Hughes relies heavily on his hard sinker, which he threw more than three-quarters of the time last season. His velocity has actually been trending up in recent seasons and his 93.0 MPH average on his sinker last season was the second-best total of his career. He also mixes in a hard slider and, more judiciously, a four-seam fastball and changeup. Only 33.6% of his pitches were in the strike zone last season according to Fangraphs, and his swinging strike rate of 9.6% was a career-worst.
Hughes has accrued 4.162 years of service time so even though the Brewers signed him to only a one-year deal, he can technically be controlled for two more seasons if the club so chooses. He does have a minor league option remaining, though once he accrues another 11 days of service time to cross over the 5-year threshold he cannot be optioned to the minor leagues without his written consent. Milwaukee’s 40 man roster is now full, though as we saw last season when Ariel Pena was DFA’d after the first game, it may not stay that way for long.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference, Baseball Prospectus and Fangraphs