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Trade Target: Collin McHugh (McWho?)

You might have heard the news already, but Yu Darvish followed Chris Gimenez and signed with the Chicago Cubs. There are many contingencies. But at this point, a trade may make more sense for the Twins than signing any of the remaining free agents. There are several trade targets that should be considered. Today, we consider Astros right-hander Collin McHugh.

There are still the bigger named free agents from this year’s class, Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb. Signing any of them would cost the Twins their third draft pick in 2018. There are the third-tier free agent pitchers like Jaime Garcia and Jason Vargas. They won’t cost a draft pick, but there is minimal upside. There are several other free agent starters that are back end of the rotation types at best.
Image courtesy of Troy Taormina, USA Today
Background
Collin McHugh made 15 big league appearances in 2012 and 2013 for the Mets and Rockies. Following that 2013 season, Colorado waived him and the Astros claimed him. As a 27-year-old rookie in 2014, he made 25 starts for Houston and went 11-9 with a 2.73 ERA. In 2015, he went 19-7 with a 3.89 ERA in 32 starts. In 2016, he made 33 starts and went 13-10 with a 4.34 ERA. Last year, he missed a lot of time due to a posterior impingement of his right elbow. He made 12 starts and went 5-2 with a 3.55 ERA.

However, last August, the Astros acquired Justin Verlander and went on to win the World Series. Then this offseason, they traded for Gerrit Cole. Their rotation going into spring training is Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Gerrit Cole, Lance McCullers and Charlie Morton. McHugh provides depth, but he would be outside of the rotation.

McHugh is not a flamethrower. His average fastball is just over 90 mph. He throws a cutter in the mid-80s and also has a good slow curveball.

McHugh will turn 31 in mid-June. Last week, he lost his arbitration hearing and will make $4.55 million in 2018. He will have one more year of arbitration in 2019, so acquiring him gives you two years of control.

Risk
As I see it, there are a few risks with McHugh. First and foremost, the elbow is a concern. I get that as of last season his injury had nothing to do with his ulnar collateral ligament, but sometimes pain in that area can lead to other issues in related structures.

Reward
Collin McHugh is not Chris Archer. Acquiring him would give the Twins a real solid #3 pitcher (if healthy). A top three of Santana, Berrios and McHugh is pretty solid. Kyle Gibson bumps down to the #4 starter and then you’ve got depth of young pitchers with varying levels of upside competing for the fifth spot in the rotation. That depth then moves down to Rochester where they continue to work to move their way up.

Secondly, he provides a quality starter at likely two years and maybe $10-13 million.

Despite not having big velocity, McHugh finds a way to miss bats. Over his four previous seasons, his K/9 numbers have been 9.1, 7.6, 8.6 and 8.8. Those numbers would be at the top of Twins starters in recent years.

Potential Cost
McHugh has two more years of team control, likely in the $10-13 million range. He doesn’t have a spot in the Astros starting rotation. The Astros have used a lot of minor leaguers in the last couple of years to acquire players like Verlander and Cole. They will likely want to acquire prospects for McHugh, but the haul for him should be far less than a trade for Chris Archer. In other words, the Twins should be able to pick any 6-8 prospects that they say are untouchable, and then the conversation can start.

That would mean that the Twins may have to give up one quality prospect, but not a top 100 type of prospect. At that point, if I’m the Astros, I’m wanting quantity as much as quality. They should take advantage of the Twins minor league depth. Maybe they would want three prospects in the 16-30 range as opposed to the Twins #11 prospect alone.

By comparison, acquiring Chris Archer is likely to cost a young major leaguer, two top five prospects and maybe two more prospects. But instead of getting a guy similar to Ervin Santana, you would be getting an absolute ace who is young and under team control for four more years for about $30 million. It’s an important distinction when comparing two potential trade targets.


Is Collin McHugh a guy you think that the Twins should consider acquiring?

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65 Comments

If you are right on the type of prospect(s), absolutely. Somebody has to start.
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nicksaviking
Feb 11 2018 10:21 PM
He's a starter, and a decent one at that, I think he'll cost more than expected. But I also don't think taking Houston's number six starter and making him the Twins number two starter is a great way to surpass Houston.
    • ashburyjohn, Thrylos, Riverbrian and 7 others like this
I don’t see the Astros putting him on the block aggressively , they are in win now mode and it’s pretty rare for a team to only need 5 SP during a season.

Basically you would need to overpay for him, I’d rather just sign a Lynn or someone like that.

I'd take him over Odorizzi in a heartbeat. Archer would be a decent move (depending on the give) although I still think "ace" is a bit of a reach.

 

I'm with Dave - bring in Lynn or Cobb.

    • SF Twins Fan and caninatl04 like this
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nicksaviking
Feb 11 2018 11:00 PM

 

I'd take him over Odorizzi in a heartbeat. Archer would be a decent move (depending on the give) although I still think "ace" is a bit of a reach.

 

I'm with Dave - bring in Lynn or Cobb.

 

I just don't understand how Lynn, Cobb, McHugh or Odorizzi get this team a WS trophy. This team can't get to the top until they figure out the very top of the rotation. Pass on these guys, the middle of the rotation isn't an issue. Save the prospects and the money, maybe the team could walk into a Justin Verlander situation again mid-season. This team has to figure out who's going up against Chris Sale or Corey Kluber in game 163. That should be the only goal right now.

    • Deduno Abides and BJames like this
Don't know why the Astros are dealing their depth. LA showed everyone how to use depth.

Why not just sign lynn or Cobb, and keep the prospects?
    • Blake, markos, SF Twins Fan and 2 others like this
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The Wise One
Feb 12 2018 04:22 AM

a third round draft pick, historically about a 1/10 shot, plus money for a number 2 starter versus multiple players with an upside for a mid priced 3 for a couple of years.I would get the better player that costs the least talent

    • SF Twins Fan likes this
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diehardtwinsfan
Feb 12 2018 05:09 AM
yeah, no reason not to sign Lynn if they want a guy like this. Spending a prospect for what would likely be the same production as a FA isn't smart in my opinion
    • SF Twins Fan and Original Whizzinator like this

Is McHugh much better or much worse than Lynn.Elbow worries me, but as a cheap deal for a couple of lottery tickets might as well go that route.I believe Lynn and Cobb both carry QO issues, so that would cost you your #2 pick next year plus some international cash.( I am not sure on this). That could be worth more than 2 lottery tickets.If Houston want more than that you always have another plan.  

Houston also has Brad Peacock in the same area, and he might be more valued that McHugh.

    • NewClearHarley likes this

Good article. I like the idea of thinking outside the box, or at least thinking of pitchers that weren't obvious targets. That said, I agree with Mike Sixel; why trade (and give up some good assets) for the type of pitcher you could just as easily sign from the group of free agents that are out there? Even though it wouldn't cost us a Top 10 prospect, I'd rather dip into the free agent pool.

I like it.The Twins need starting pitching, this would be a good start, especially if Seth's 'quantity over quality' analysis is correct. Give up four lower level prospects, with the realization that only one of them might make the Twins roster some day?? I'd do it in a heartbeat.

    • howieramone2 likes this

 

Don't know why the Astros are dealing their depth. LA showed everyone how to use depth.

Why not just sign lynn or Cobb, and keep the prospects?

I tend to agree, but maybe the prospects wouldn't be the ones we are thinking. What if it is Stewart and Pearson or similar?

That wouldn't affect our core prospects and we could still sign Cobb?

    • Twins33 and howieramone2 like this

 

He's a starter, and a decent one at that, I think he'll cost more than expected. But I also don't think taking Houston's number six starter and making him the Twins number two starter is a great way to surpass Houston.

 

Do we think they're going to surpass Houston's rotation? Cuz they aren't, even with Archer.

 

I just think that McHugh makes the Twins better. 

    • Twins33, beckmt, Blackjack and 5 others like this

 

Good article. I like the idea of thinking outside the box, or at least thinking of pitchers that weren't obvious targets. That said, I agree with Mike Sixel; why trade (and give up some good assets) for the type of pitcher you could just as easily sign from the group of free agents that are out there? Even though it wouldn't cost us a Top 10 prospect, I'd rather dip into the free agent pool.

 

I think Lance Lynn might be slightly better than McHugh. I'm just throwing out a trade candidate, not saying they should or shouldn't do it. I think adding him would make the Twins better. I also think they are capable of doing multiple moves (trade and free agent, two trades, two free agents, whatever). I think McHugh is worth having the discussion with Houston and seeing what that cost might be.

    • howieramone2, gagu, SF Twins Fan and 2 others like this

 

Good article. I like the idea of thinking outside the box, or at least thinking of pitchers that weren't obvious targets. That said, I agree with Mike Sixel; why trade (and give up some good assets) for the type of pitcher you could just as easily sign from the group of free agents that are out there? Even though it wouldn't cost us a Top 10 prospect, I'd rather dip into the free agent pool.

 

I'm in a state of "meh" or a teenage "whatever" when it comes to leftover FA pitchers.They'll help, but not impact the club the way Darvish would have.However, I'm with Sixel and Doctor Wu.The free agent pitchers are about as good as what, the talk is, we'd trade for.It's just the price tags would be different.So why give up prospects when you can get the milk for free...agent money?

 

In a trade for a top arm, I'm not a huge Archer fan.Plus, I know that would cost an absurd amount of talent, which is probably why we don't have him already.

I'd like to know what happen to the Robbie Ray trade talks.That would also probably take some talent, but call me crazy, I'd like him more than Archer.

I think Lance Lynn might be slightly better than McHugh. I'm just throwing out a trade candidate, not saying they should or shouldn't do it. I think adding him would make the Twins better. I also think they are capable of doing multiple moves (trade and free agent, two trades, two free agents, whatever). I think McHugh is worth having the discussion with Houston and seeing what that cost might be.


I like the idea for sure, I just think Houston(win now 100%) will hold onto him unless they are blown away, and I’m not sure McHugh is a guy you want to ‘overpay for’ with prospects at this time.

Pitching is tough to get via trades as we all know, so I would still just prefer the FA market, where at least if you over pay you aren’t giving up young/cheap/impact prospects as well.

I just don't understand how Lynn, Cobb, McHugh or Odorizzi get this team a WS trophy. This team can't get to the top until they figure out the very top of the rotation. Pass on these guys, the middle of the rotation isn't an issue. Save the prospects and the money, maybe the team could walk into a Justin Verlander situation again mid-season. This team has to figure out who's going up against Chris Sale or Corey Kluber in game 163. That should be the only goal right now.


You have to get to game 163 first. Who knows, Darvish might be hurt by then?? Rotation depth is always a concern, Lynn, Cobb, even Garcia makes the Twins better. Also it's possible that another good year and some progression Berrios becomes that guy who can take on Sale etc.... The Twins might already have that guy, but if they finish 72 - 90 then they will never know.

But I say keep the prospects, especially the ones that are close, like Gonsalves, Romero, etc.... Because they could be the next wave of top starters, or when they are 10 games over .500 in August and need to make that trade to put them over the top, that's when you play those chips. Until then get Lynn, Cobb, etc... Someone to help out, especially now that Santana is down for awhile.
    • Twins33, 70charger, howieramone2 and 4 others like this
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FormerMinnasotan
Feb 12 2018 10:10 AM
If we can get McHugh without giving up too much I’d be intrigued. His elbow issues worry me though. From the sound of it he’d be cheaper in a trade then Chris Archer. When healthy he looks good and would be plenty good in our rotation. He doesn’t seem to be over powering so what’s his secret to his success? I just hope that if we pull off a trade for him that his “stuff” holds up over time.
    • Twins33 and SF Twins Fan like this
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howieramone2
Feb 12 2018 10:22 AM

Right now we are a better team than we have been in years. I could care less how we get rotation help. Plenty of time and plenty of starting pitching still available.

    • luckylager likes this

 

yeah, no reason not to sign Lynn if they want a guy like this. Spending a prospect for what would likely be the same production as a FA isn't smart in my opinion

 

The only issue with that train of thought is that Lynn (& Cobb/Arietta) will cost a high draft pick, which is pretty much the same as losing a prospect...

    • diehardtwinsfan, beckmt, RaymondLuxuryYacht and 1 other like this

I like McHugh.I think that he will slot right in front of Santana and will be willing to send Houston someone with lower ceiling than him (Gonsalves, Littell) plus someone like Slegers to make it happen.This would be close to what the Twins got for Garcia last season, which should the baseline for this trade.I suspect that, based on that, the Astros might want more.I would not mind adding Gordon to Gonsalves to make this happen.

 

McHugh had 12.4 SwStr%, 22.9 K%, and 15.5 K-BB% last season.Berrios had 9.4 SwSte%, 22.6 K%, 14.8 K-BB%.Nobody else in the Twins' rotation came close to those numbers last season.The only other pitcher who may come close this season is May who approached those numbers when healthy but that was a couple seasons ago.

 

McHugh had shoulder/bicept issues last spring training, in addition to elbow.This piece, says that it might had been his mechanics and that he worked on that. 

 

At this point (and in the next 2 seasons) the Twins can use McHugh more than Gonsalves and Gordon, so they should do it.

 

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nicksaviking
Feb 12 2018 10:41 AM

 

Do we think they're going to surpass Houston's rotation? Cuz they aren't, even with Archer.

 

I just think that McHugh makes the Twins better. 

 

But he doesn't make them better where they actually need to improve. The Twins already have middle of the rotation arms. Their deficiency is the top of the rotation. If they have a hole they need to fill at shortstop it's not going to get filled by signing a third baseman even if he makes the team better.

    • Sam Morley likes this
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nicksaviking
Feb 12 2018 10:47 AM

 

You have to get to game 163 first. Who knows, Darvish might be hurt by then?? Rotation depth is always a concern, Lynn, Cobb, even Garcia makes the Twins better. Also it's possible that another good year and some progression Berrios becomes that guy who can take on Sale etc.... The Twins might already have that guy, but if they finish 72 - 90 then they will never know.

But I say keep the prospects, especially the ones that are close, like Gonsalves, Romero, etc.... Because they could be the next wave of top starters, or when they are 10 games over .500 in August and need to make that trade to put them over the top, that's when you play those chips. Until then get Lynn, Cobb, etc... Someone to help out, especially now that Santana is down for awhile.

 

I'd rather have a team that's capable of winning it all but could miss the post season than a team that will make the post season but isn't capable of winning it all.

 

There's no rule that the Twins have to go into the playoffs as the plucky, try-hard underdogs. That chip-chair-and-a-chance bit is so damn old and those long odds have yet to pay out for the Twins. This organization has to stop this business of hoping for the best. They need to PLAN for the best. Don't rely on luck and good fortune, make it yourself by stacking the odds in your favor.

    • USAFChief, Sam Morley, SF Twins Fan and 2 others like this
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howieramone2
Feb 12 2018 10:48 AM

 

But he doesn't make them better where they actually need to improve. The Twins already have middle of the rotation arms. Their deficiency is the top of the rotation. If they have a hole they need to fill at shortstop it's not going to get filled by signing a third baseman even if he makes the team better.

You do not need a mythical ace. Give me a 5 man balanced rotation with additional depth anytime. Don't even pretend you can predict what will happen in a short series.


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