The #Reds have signed RHP Jared Hughes to a 2-year deal with a club option for 2020.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) December 26, 2017
Hughes is 32. He pitched 6 years for the Pirates, who released Hughes prior to the 2017 season. Milwaukee picked up Hughes who made 67 appearances for them last year. The Brewers non-tendered (eligible for arbitration and the club declined to make an offer) Hughes. The Reds will pay Hughes $2.125 million in 2018 and 2019. The agreement includes a club option for 2020 and a $250,000 buyout.
Hughes throws a 94-mph sinker most of the time (72%). His second pitch is a 86-mph slider (21%). Lots of ground balls.
Hughes doesn’t have much of a strikeout rate. 19.7% last year was his best as a major leaguer since 2011. It’s about the same as Deck McGuire and Drew Storen. MLB average for relievers is 23.3%
Hughes’ walk rate last year (9.8%) is a bit high. MLB average for relievers was 9.2%. Drew Storen (9.4%) and Kevin Shackelford (9.6%) are comparisons.
Hughes had a nice ERA (3.02), but anyone who uses ERA as a selling point for a reliever is hoping you’re living in the past. His FIP (3.93) and xFIP (3.98) are a little better than league average.
Thoughts: The idea that Jared Hughes will be one of the 7-8 best arms in the Reds bullpen this year is puzzling. Hughes turns 33 in July. I guess the Reds believe they have money to burn on mediocre relievers in 2018. But why give this guy a 2-year deal? Hughes was CUT by two teams in the past two seasons.
The Reds front office will sell Jared Hughes as having “experience.” Yes, experience being mediocre. It’s more likely he’ll block young pitchers who need MLB experience than he’ll provide a steadying presence in high leverage situations. Eating opportunity, not innings.
The Reds front office will sell Jared Hughes as “filling a need.” Pray to your baseball gods they don’t really believe it.
On the other hand, $2 million isn’t much, as long as it’s not my $2 million. And if ownership is willing to consider it expendable.
It may be that I have a warped view about relievers, or am too optimistic about the number of solid-to-good arms already in the Reds system, but I see zero value in signings like this. Surely the Reds could find a better use for $4+ million than hiring the logo for the replacement reliever society.