PLEASE NOTE: I believe 100% that Phil Hughes will be a successful starting pitcher in the MLB. This post is based on a likely possibility, not necessarily what I want to happen.
Still, the common belief is that the Yankees will acquire at least one starting pitcher this off-season, whether it be in a trade, a signing, or a hostile takeover of another team.
That brings us to Phil Hughes. The up and down former top pitching prospect is now expected to have to fight for his job in Spring Training once again. Hughes previously beat out Joba Chamberlain, forcing Chamberlain to the bullpen (sigh) then kept his role for the next season.
After a shaky season, Hughes will have to pitch well in Spring Training to get a spot in the starting rotation. What if he doesn't, though? What if Hughes struggles, or someone pitches well enough to knock him out of a spot? It remains a strong possibility, as between Hector Noesi, David Phelps, Adam Warren, and others, perhaps at least one can pitch a fantastic Spring Training.
There is no clear answer to the what if, so let's look at the different scenarios.
Yankees Send Phil Hughes to AAA to continue working as a starter- This is what I prefer if Hughes does not make the rotation. I believe (please correct me if I am wrong, I am not 100% sure on this) Hughes has two options left, so the Yankees can afford to demote Hughes if he does not make the rotation.
This is the best move for the future of Hughes, as he can continue to work on the necessary changes, and also continue to pitch as many innings as a starter must.
Follow after the jump for the rest of the options.Move Phil Hughes to the bullpen temporarily- Hughes would likely be a long reliever in this scenario, though it does not seem very likely. The Yankees already have Brad Meyers, George Kontos, and any possible minor league signings to pitch long relief. Hughes would not be in an important enough role, and still would not be getting enough innings. I do not suggest this option.
Move Phil Hughes to the bullpen permanently- As we saw in 2009, Hughes can pitch in a set-up role. Between Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Soriano, David Robertson, and possibly Phil Hughes, the Yankees could have the best bullpen in baseball. Even without Hughes they might, as Cory Wade is another solid pitcher in the bullpen.
This is another option I do not suggest, as like we saw with Joba Chamberlain, moving Hughes to the bullpen is not getting full value out of Hughes. The Yankees are not in need of bullpen help, so there is little reason to make the move.
Trade Phil Hughes- Quite possibly my least favorite idea of the bunch. Hughes' value is at its lowest right now, so a rough Spring Training would lower his value to unforeseen levels.
Which option would you pick?