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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

 

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.

 

Well if you don't make the post season you have Zero chance of winning. But if you mean you go for it and injuries happen or some terrible luck happens, then I am with you.

IMO the current state of the Twins is not capable of making the playoffs let alone winning it. Unless of course they are no major injuries or they have incredible luck. Which are two things I don't bet on.

 

I believe the best chance for the Twins competing the next two years and maybe three years has nothing to do with our prospects in A ball. Those prospects can be turned into things to help us (Twins) win for the next few years and if we get the right players and we still don't win, they should be players we can turn around and trade for A balls players in a year one or three.

Imagine we trade for Archer and he is really, really good but the rest of the team isn't, We should be able to turn around and trade him at the deadline either of the next two years for more than we gave up to get him.

    • Thrylos likes this

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.


Right now there doesn't appear to be any plan at #4 or 5 in the rotation other than throwing numbers at the problem. So I would say they have holes throughout the rotation.

The Twins' priority should be acquiring any pitcher who projects to be better short term than Slegers, Jorge, Gonsalves, Hughes, etc. Which shouldn't be that hard to do.
    • Twins33, 70charger, IndyTwinsFan and 2 others like this

I see 13 healthy names on the Houston 40-man which would have to make the opening day roster or be cut. Tony Sipp would be an obvious cut candidate in that group. There's also a Rule 5 guy, but only a very long shot (Anthony Gose, trying to convert from OF to RP).Not a lot of guys in the next tier forcing their way up quite yet, though. Martes is pretty raw.

 

I don't see more than 13 position players that need rostering either.

 

So it shouldn't be too hard to start with 12 and include McHugh as the 6th starter, if they want. Keep in mind, while they have added Verlander and Cole, they lost Fiers, McCullers has yet to start more than 22 games in a season, Keuchel has missed time the last 2 seasons (and is a pending FA himself), and Peacock might be a better weapon out of the pen.

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yarnivek1972
Feb 12 2018 12:06 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.


This. Exactly. Smart teams trying to contend aren’t likely to trade away a good starting pitcher before the season starts. Especially when they have no glaring deficiencies at the MLB level that trading McHugh would solve.
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RegularJoe62
Feb 12 2018 12:11 PM

Meh. Trade Kepler and a package of lower level prospects for Archer, then use all the money we saved on Darvish to steal Martinez from the AL East. 
Not gonna happen, but fun to think about. 

    • flyin fin likes this
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nicksaviking
Feb 12 2018 12:27 PM

 

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.

 

I can predict that if the WC game is Chris Sale or Corey Kluber or Justin Verlander or Luis Severino vs Colin McHugh, that the Twins are once again going to find themselves as gigantic underdogs.

    • USAFChief and Original Whizzinator like this
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nicksaviking
Feb 12 2018 12:32 PM

 

Right now there doesn't appear to be any plan at #4 or 5 in the rotation other than throwing numbers at the problem. So I would say they have holes throughout the rotation.

The Twins' priority should be acquiring any pitcher who projects to be better short term than Slegers, Jorge, Gonsalves, Hughes, etc. Which shouldn't be that hard to do.

 

But if you get an actual #1 than that fixes the hole at the top and beefs up the bottom by pushing Santana/Berrios/Gibson/et al down.

 

I don't know why finding a #5 for the short term would be a priority over finding a #1 for any length of time.

    • USAFChief, Twins33 and Original Whizzinator like this

A team in the Twins position should be looking to add starting pitching that will take them from being a playoff looser to a playoff winner. Darvish, Archer, Arrieta, maybe Cole are names that have been out there that would have that effect if added. Odirizzi, Cobb, Lynn, McHugh wouldn't. They will get you through the season, maybe help you make the playoffs and then not have what it takes when the competition ramps up against great teams.

 

The ways to acquire an impact starter are through free agency, trade, or development. We missed Darvish. It sounds like they aren't interested in Arrieta. There isn't anybody else in free agency unless you get lucky on a reclamation project. Getting Archer would be good. McHugh is a decent starting pitcher. He's not going to come for nothing. You're going to have to give up assets you like for a guy who isn't really going to make a difference in the postseason. 

 

If they can't put a rotation together through free agency and/or trade acquisition that can be great in the playoffs, then I'd rather see what the young guys can do, and I definitely don't want to lose any young guys to get veteran mediocrity. 

 

I suppose the likes of one or two of those 2nd tier guys could keep the Twins competitive through the all star break and put them in position to be buyers at the trade deadline where they could potentially add somebody who could make a difference in the playoffs. 

    • nicksaviking, RegularJoe62 and flyin fin like this

But if you get an actual #1 than that fixes the hole at the top and beefs up the bottom by pushing Santana/Berrios/Gibson/et al down.

I don't know why finding a #5 for the short term would be a priority over finding a #1 for any length of time.


Because it's more realistic than finding the magical #1 pitcher. Do you think Archer's getting traded anytime soon? I don't.

They can continue to search for a #1 pitcher and look for a more realistic target like McHugh.
    • Tomj14 likes this
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Kelly Vance
Feb 12 2018 01:51 PM

You need an ace who can throw that three hit shutout in game 1. Then you need a solid #2 that can hold serve.  A good #3 helps, but the days of winning a series with a #3 pitcher like Les Straker are long gone

    • RegularJoe62 likes this

Gosh, I don't know.  It DOES seem to me that the Twins are still in the phase of the program where they need to be finding their Keuchel/Arrieta/Kluber, rather than pining after the Lesters and Verlanders.

I'm just at a loss of whom the Twins would trade. For anyone.

 

Is there a market for Romero or Jorge, from the 40-man roster? If you do a trade to the Astros or Rays, you need to trade someone, anyone from the roster. Otherwise, you are throwing away another name to add someone.

 

Where do the Twins have offense depth. Right now, every bat on the 40-man could play in Target Field come April. The number of prospects redy to push any of the roster spots is...nill.

 

I just don't see the Twins having major league ready assets to trade. Especially for a talent that still ahs team control. And anyone on the Twins major league roster not named Buxton and probably Sano is far from being on the top of most team's wishlists.

I am not in favor of trading for Archer and trading with Tampa again like they did with Delmond Young I still can remember that trade. I truly believe that trade cost Minnesota chance to go to the world series. We traded a way quality short stop and at that time quality starter for bust offensive player. If we trade for Archer will be trading away I think longterm all star right fielder plus several other high quality prospects for a pitcher that only plays every 5 days. I look at the Twins were not that deep in farm system right now if you consider where were at with our current team. It appears were not going to sign Dozier so we will be bringing up Gordon before season is over and when Dozier is traded if were not in running for playoff spot. Likely Mauer is playing his last season here with MN with this regime so we will be looking at bringing somebody up or signing FA in near future. But getting back to Trading for ARcher what does it do to MN if we trade Kepler. Look we move from being one the best outfields in MLB to just average. The reason I say this is Buxton going play whole season without hurting himself and we need a center fielder. Kepler gives us immediate backup with above average range as well as being able to have Granite fill outfield position so were still above league average. This outfield is why we had improved pitching last year but if we go backwards there also our pitching goes backward with exception of one starter. We need a starter go sign FA or trade with Houston for Starter but don't trade away future of this team on one player. I don't want to be looking at Tampa playing with our players in world series again because of trade and I am afraid that's what going to happen.

 

Gosh, I don't know.  It DOES seem to me that the Twins are still in the phase of the program where they need to be finding their Keuchel/Arrieta/Kluber, rather than pining after the Lesters and Verlanders.

Not sure why you say that, the Twins have if I figured it out correctly, only 3 guys making more than the average for their potion (Dozier, Reed and Mauer) and all three are barely over that.

Seems like the perfect time to spend, because at some point Buxton, Rosario, Sano and maybe others will cost a fortune and the story will be are payroll is too high for FA's. IMO

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.


I say you stack the odds in your favor by keeping the chips you have until the final hand at least. When I play poker I don't go all in on my first hand or two. Trade those chips to put yourself over the top when you realize your gonna actually get there. Not before.

Also if you build to win it all or maybe not even make the playoffs, you do realize that if the Twins don't make the playoffs that they will probably tear this whole thing apart and start over again. Come August, when the twins are 10 - 11 games under they start trading away all their good guys to teams that need them and get a bunch of new young guys that none of us have any idea how good they will be.

Be careful for what you wish for.
    • Blackjack likes this
My point is this. I'm not against trading prospects, even great ones, but they can make that trade in August. Until then they need a Lynn, Cobb, etc... To get them through the season. There will be a lot of teams that will be out of it and they will have some really good starting pitchers that will become available. They will be trying to get rid of them, just like the Tigers did with Verlander this year. Now if they get Cobb now, get Santana back in May, have Berrios develop a little more, have Gibson not do terrible and then add that so called Ace in August. Then the Twins will end up with two better pitchers to put in the rotation. Now you have your so called world series contender. But if you trade a bunch for a guy like Archer now, they will be done and won't be able to add that extra guy in August because you can't sign free agents in August. Sign that free agent now, Cobb, Lynn, etc... And get the Ace at the trade deadline.
    • Blackjack, ewen21 and NewClearHarley like this

 

Not sure why you say that, the Twins have if I figured it out correctly, only 3 guys making more than the average for their potion (Dozier, Reed and Mauer) and all three are barely over that.

Seems like the perfect time to spend, because at some point Buxton, Rosario, Sano and maybe others will cost a fortune and the story will be are payroll is too high for FA's. IMO

 

 

No sense bellying up to the hog trough of top free agency until spots 2-5 are bit more solid.  All three teams I cited are different, actually.  The Cubs bellied up for Lester before they were maybe ready to contend for the WS.  The Indians never did, although they DID kind of go all-in with the Miller acquisition.  But the Astros built everything up and then acquired their Ace as the last part of the equation.

 

Keep in mind, I don't have a 20 game season ticket package anted up in this game.  I don't really care if the owners pocket the money; I'm sure in some fashion they will reinvest it and eventually it will trickle down to me...

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KirbyDome89
Feb 12 2018 02:52 PM

 

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.

But we're ok with pretending that talent won't win out? 

There will be a lot of teams that will be out of it and they will have some really good starting pitchers that will become available. They will be trying to get rid of them, just like the Tigers did with Verlander this year.


Name some SP that you expect to be available at the trade deadline in 2018. Not all trade deadlines are created equal -- remember 2016 when Hector Santiago was one of the leading arms available?

And even in 2017 when there were 4 notable SP available, I think you are dramatically underrating the difficulty of acquiring them. Look where they wound up: Dodgers, Yankees, Cubs, Astros. Doesn't look much different from FA negotiations, does it?
Verlander's no-trade clause played a big role too, limiting his potential landing spots as much as any choosy FA.
    • Oxtung likes this
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yarnivek1972
Feb 12 2018 04:16 PM

You need an ace who can throw that three hit shutout in game 1. Then you need a solid #2 that can hold serve. A good #3 helps, but the days of winning a series with a #3 pitcher like Les Straker are long gone


IDK, if you get 6 shutout innings on the road from your # 3, I’d say your chances of winning that game are pretty good.
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ashburyjohn
Feb 12 2018 05:38 PM

I am not in favor of trading for Archer and trading with Tampa again like they did with Delmond Young I still can remember that trade. I truly believe that trade cost Minnesota chance to go to the world series.

“We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it, and stop there, lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove lid again and that is well, but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.” ― Mark Twain

    • nicksaviking and RegularJoe62 like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Feb 12 2018 05:47 PM

 

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...

 

This is a fair point... the guy is still pretty meh to me at last. I suppose I would trade a guy like Jorge or Slegers for him, but I'm not sure I'd send anyone over with upside. Houston might have to deal someone like this, so you could potentially get him cheap. But this certainly isn't my first target right now. I'd rather get Lynn or Archer.

Charlie Morton might be a better target. Thin he may only be signed for 1 more year.

What about signing Andrew Cashner, he pitched in that home run friendly ballpark in Arlington. That and he is only 32 years old like Darvish, I know the ERA and the WAR do not jump out at you, but with the Twins defense and less home run friendly park, I would have to think Cashner would be a reasonable free agent target.

 

But we're ok with pretending that talent won't win out? 

"An ace" pitches every five days.There are only about five or six true aces in the league and Darvish sure as heck isn't one of them.Neither is Archer and I don't think Arrietta is now.

 

He said a "balanced rotation"

I would rather have that than an ace and a couple of question marks at the bottom of the rotation.I believe that is what he meant.  

    • 70charger likes this

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