April 19, 2012

Sorry, mate: Twins designate Luke Hughes for assignment

Jason Marquis' return forced the Twins to open a roster spot and rather than drop a pitcher, cut loose Sean Burroughs, or option Chris Parmelee to Triple-A they designated an out-of-options Luke Hughes for assignment. I'm no fan of a 13-man pitching staff and Parmelee, like Ben Revere, would be better off playing regularly in Rochester if he's going to continue sitting often in Minnesota, but it's tough to imagine Hughes coming back to haunt the Twins.

For one thing he's largely superfluous with Trevor Plouffe around, as Hughes offers a similar skill set with less upside and bigger flaws. And beyond that he simply isn't very good. Hughes was never a top prospect, peaking at No. 17 on my annual Twins farm system ranking in 2009 before falling to No. 23 in 2010 and No. 33 last year. He hit .224/.285/.342 in 102 games for the Twins and .257/.319/.440 in 118 games at Triple-A, and turns 28 years old in August.

Hughes is capable of being a useful bench bat or platoon starter versus left-handers, but he's a tweener in that his second base and third base defense is sub par and the higher offensive standard for that role at first base or an outfield corner is likely over his head. He strikes out too much, doesn't walk enough, had poor batting averages in Rochester and Minnesota, and his good but not great power is nothing special for part-timers at offense-driven positions.

Keeping him around would have been fine and the Twins had several other reasonable choices that would've allowed them to do so, but ultimately Hughes is a marginal major leaguer who seems finished developing and those are the types of players teams designate for assignment all the time. He might clear waivers, in which case the Twins could stash him at Triple-A minus the 40-man roster spot, but even if Hughes gets claimed the loss is minimal.

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  • neil

    Hmm, oh well. As much as I wanted to see him go on a power tear for us in a month other than March, it probably would have happened by now if it were going to. Happy trails, Luke.
    I won’t miss hearing “use the force, Luke” at Target Field.

  • by jiminy

    Isn’t there a little more hope for him being a late bloomer than most players his age because he’s from Australia?

    I was still hoping he’d blossom. Oh well. Good luck to him. And there’s always a chance he’ll clear waivers.

  • Zach Morris

    One of the more likable guys on this team right now. Hoping he clear waivers. I think he would/is be a decent 25th man. His defense seemed to have doomed him.

  • http://glanzer.wordpress.com RCG

    Yeah but who will lead the team in spring training HR and RBI and every other big offensive category next year? Hughes claim to fame aside from homering in his first at-bat will forever be his stellar Grapefruit League numbers.

  • jfs

    with this move, the twins may be preparing for a waiver claim or two, taking advantage of their high position. the 40-man roster is full, which includes two spots for baker and waldrop, both of whom are injured.

  • http://tenthinningstretch.blogspot.com/ thrylos98

    So, do you have any evidence other than anecdotal about his “sub par” defense? If you look at dWAR, UZR, and Runs Saved above Average, you will see that his defense is above average…

  • Jimbo92107

    Generally solid but unspectacular defense, not enough production from his bat, decent base runner, but few steals. If Hughes had gone on a hot streak, this would not have happened. But he didn’t.

    When I compare Hughes to Plouffe, Plouffe wins with a better arm, more versatility, better bat. Plouffe seems a bit more error prone, but that may settle down with more experience.

    That said, how many guys in this Twins lineup are safe from a rising, ambitious young player? Almost none of them. Mauer, Morneau and Span will stick, but almost everybody else could get bumped within a few years.

  • sevenball

    I don’t think it’s Plouffe that Hughes duplicates – it’s Casilla. Hughes’ numbers compare favorably to Casilla, and Hughes might actually be the better defender. Given that Hughes’ salary is 1/3 of Casilla’s, I’d rather dump Alexi and give Hughes the shot.

  • Dave T

    I don’t think it’ll be much longer before Dozier is recalled, and Casilla will be taking Hughes spot as utility infielder.

  • FMelius

    Hughes sure does seem likeable. And I sure did enjoy seeing him score the winning run for us vs. the Rangers last June!

    Click the link for the FanGraphs game log:
    http://www.fangraphs.com/wins.aspx?date=2011-06-09&team=Twins&dh=0&season=2011

  • Mike

    Best for him if another team picks him up. Maybe new coaches might up his game a little. He’s been in the Twins system for a long time with little growth.

  • Hugh

    Ummm I hate to disagree, but I have to. Luke Hughes is far superior to Trevor Plouffe. I feel this was a stupid move by the Twins- why not send down a pitcher? Hughes can play first, third, a corner outfield spot and a passable 2nd base. Plouffe is a liability in the field no matter the position. Hughes has also been the better hitter. Perhaps this paves the way for Dozier or Nishi to come up. We do not have a back up middle infielder now- at least not a quality one. Where is Matt Tolbert when you need him?

  • Dave

    I’ve got a question for someone that understands baseball transactions better than I do:

    My understanding is that when a player is DFA’s, the team has 10 days to either: 1. trade him, 2. release him, or 3. put him on waivers.

    Say they choose #3 – waivers, and the player is claimed. Then, don’t they have another three choices: 1. let him go to the claiming team, 2. arrange for a trade with the claiming team, or 3. rescind the waiver and put him back on the roster.

    So… what’s preventing the Twins from waiting a few days, then putting him on waivers, then when he is claimed rescinding him and putting back on the roster? I know it seems ridulous, but what if they only wanted 13 pitchers for a few days since Liriano threw such a short start.

    Am I missing something? Is there some rule that would prevent this chain of events?

  • Mitch

    I won’t lose a minute of sleep over this roster move, but that being said, “…the loss is minimal” might be some of the efficiently stinging words you could ever hear regarding a career.

  • CJ

    Sorry mate, but I disagree.

    He never really got a shot of being a regular at the Twins. Got some extended game time through other injuries last season, but was just a filler.

    He wasn’t moneyballed over to the A’s because “he simply isn’t very good”.

    I suspect Hughes may have the last laugh. We’ll see.