The Twins continued their activity on the free agent front, reportedly agreeing to a three-year, $24 million contract with right-handed pitcher Phil Hughes, per La Velle Neal of the Minnesota Star Tribune.
The deal is pending a physical, Neal reports, and could be announced early next week. Hughes will join Ricky Nolasco, who agreed to a four-year, $49 million contract with Minnesota on Wednesday, as the Twins try to improve a starting rotation that was near the bottom of the American League in 2013.
Minnesota starting pitchers in 2013 were last in the league in ERA (5.26), innings (871), hits allowed (1,072), strikeouts (477), quality starts (62) and complete games (one), and were second-to-last in wins (39).
Hughes, who will turn 28 in June, was 4-14 with the Yankees in 2013 with a 5.29 ERA, 121 strikeouts and 42 walks in 145⅔ innings. On the surface that campaign looked like a slump compared to 2012, when Hughes was 16-13 with a 4.29 ERA in 32 starts, but peripherally Hughes has been consistent for three years straight, putting up FIPs of 4.50 (2013), 4.56 (2012) and 4.58 (2011) in the last three years.
While Hughes and Nolasco are improvements to the rotation, the Twins are looking to upgrade in other areas as well. Neal reports that Minnesota is "making progress" in bringing back catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who was drafted by the Twins and played for them from 1998-2003.
"The Twins want to bring in players with winning backgrounds, and Pierzynski, who won a World Series in 2005 with the White Sox and played in 14 postseason games with the Twins, brings that as well as an edge in the clubhouse that the club believes is missing," wrote Neal.
Pierzynski, who turns 37 in December, hit .272/.297/.425 in 134 games with the Rangers in 2013. The Twins have a vacancy at catcher as they plan to move Joe Mauer from behind the plate to first base full-time in 2014.