Once heralded as the savior to the Yankees rotation, Phil Hughes has likely pitched his last game for the organization who has employed him over the last 10 years. His 2013 ended so poorly that the Yankees balked at the idea of extending a $14.1 million qualifying offer for fear that he would accept. Now he's free to sign elsewhere and isn't tied to draft pick compensation.
This has made him the perfect target for the Kansas City Royals, who have lost Ervin Santana and Bruce Chen to free agency and suffered through disappointing seasons from Jeremy Guthrie, Luis Mendoza, and Wade Davis. Pitching coach Dave Eiland is also very familiar with Hughes from his time in the Yankees organization.
Hughes, at the age of 27, could end up being a steal for a team with a big ballpark and a small budget. Thankfully, Kauffman Stadium might be more forgiving to Hughes' fly ball tendencies than Yankee Stadium has been. Though the run environment was relatively the same in 2013 (1.087 vs. 1.082), Kauffman yielded far fewer home runs (1.128 vs. 0.880). This season, Hughes had the fourth highest fly ball rate (46.5%) and sixth highest HR/9 (1.48) with a minimum of 140 innings pitched, so it could end up being good for his career.
The Yankees, meanwhile, intend to move on from the failed prospect. They intend to go in heavily on Masahiro Tanaka, who still hasn't been posted. MLB and NPB are reportedly still weeks away from coming to an agreement on a new posting system. They will attempt to re-sign Hiroki Kuroda and could use an internal crop of replacements that include David Phelps, Michael Pineda and others. Yankee fans everywhere will likely not miss Phil Hughes, unless of course he figures it out somewhere else.
While the Yankees weigh their options at third base, they have shown some level of interest in bringing back Eric Chavez to provide corner infielder depth. While he has proven that he can still hit, he has also proven that he can't avoid injuries, so using him to replace an often injured Alex Rodriguez may not be the best idea.
The Angels and Diamondbacks have also shown interest in the third baseman. Chavez made $3 million in 2013, but he is looking for a substantial market-value raise for 2014. LA has no longterm solution at third base after trading Alberto Callaspo to the Athletics and Arizona has a 22-year-old untested rookie in Matt Davidson that they probably want insurance for in case he fails.
If other teams are willing to pay him too much, the Yankees shouldn't try to stop them. A reunion with Chavez is unlikely to happen, but the free agent market could change at any moment.