Phil Hughes has said that he would be open to signing as a reliever when he becomes a free agent in the offseason. He told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News:
I mean, I feel like pitching at this level is a blessing in any way. So if teams value me as a starter, that's great. If not, and that's their opinion, we'll see what happens. We will see how it shakes out.
With his continued mediocrity as a starter, many have started thinking he would perform best as a reliever. Now it seems Hughes might agree if he doesn't get any offers to start somewhere. It is believed that teams like the Padres or Giants would sign him because their large ballparks could help minimize his home run tendencies.
As a reliever in 2009, Hughes had a 1.40 ERA, 1.83 FIP, and 11.40 K/9 in 51.1 innings. He averaged 93.7 mph on his fastball, topping out at 97.3 mph, while in 2013 his average fastball velocity has been 92.3 mph. Moving to the bullpen often increases a pitcher's velocity, but by next season Hughes will be five years removed from his season of bullpen dominance.
Hughes is a mediocre starter and even those have value. A team with a big ballpark will likely take a chance that he can be more than that with him, so becoming a reliever is not likely to be his first choice. The problem with going from starter to reliever as a free agent is that you're not going to make a lot of money. Starters and closers make money and no one is going to give Phil Hughes the chance to close because he was ridiculously good a few years back. He'd likely make a middle reliever's salary, which isn't much, and hope he gets the chance to close sometime during the season.
The only use the Yankees would have for him is as a starter considering their options have become very limited. If he stays with the team it will be as a starter, especially considering the fact that Brian Cashman doesn't spend money on relievers. Wherever Hughes ends up, it won't be as a reliever, unless he wants to purposefully make less money in the next few years.