SEATTLE – The Twins peeled more than $7 million off their $22 million obligation to Phil Hughes by trading him to San Diego on Sunday, but the discount came at a not-insignificant price.
The Twins agreed to move their competitive-balance pick in next month’s amateur draft — the No. 74 choice overall — in order to make the deal, the teams announced. The Twins receive catcher Janigson Villalobos, a 21-year-old Venezuelan, along with the Padres’ contribution of nearly $7.5 million toward Hughes’ salary, but they lose the pick and the right to spend $812,200 on their draft picks, the slot amount assigned to the 74th pick.
It leaves the Twins a budget of $5.93 million to spend in the first 10 rounds, $3.12 million of it as the slot amount for their first pick at No. 20.
The trade also gives Hughes, designated for assignment last week after pitching only 12 innings and giving up nine runs this season, a new start to a disappointing season.
“I’m ecstatic for him, because I know he wants to continue to pitch,” Twins pitching coach Garvin Alston said of the 31-year-old, who grew up less than 100 miles from San Diego. It’s possible the Padres will convert Hughes back to a starter, and “I hope he gets that chance,” Alston said. “If he gets the opportunity, he could do it.”
Villalobos batted .253 with an on-base percentage of .408 over two seasons at the rookie level, and threw out 11 of 36 runners who attempted to steal last year. He hasn’t played yet this year except in extended spring training, while waiting for rookie leagues to commence after the draft.
Hard way to finish
The Twins’ seventh walk-off loss of the season Saturday is already the most they have suffered in an entire season since 2004, when they were victimized 10 times. And the way they lost — on a Mike Zunino home run with two outs in the 12th inning — was particularly disappointing to Twins manager Paul Molitor.
“They’re a little bit tougher like that — two outs, nobody on, two strikes, and you’re looking at the most dangerous hitter you would face that inning,” Molitor said, pointing out that light-hitting Andrew Romine, who hasn’t homered this year, was on deck. “That was the hardest part for me, that we had an opportunity to make pitches there, and if you lose the guy or he gets a hit, you’ve still got a pretty good chance of extending the game.”
But Twins reliever Matt Magill, who had been working the outside edge with his first five pitches, left a 2-2 slider in the middle of the plate, a pitch that Zunino crushed into the left-field stands.
It was the fifth walkoff home run the Twins have served up this season, just one short of the franchise-record six they surrendered in 1985. Is the shock of a home run worse than the slower-developing extra-inning loss?
“Not significantly,” Molitor said with a shrug. “Either way, you’re grabbing your books and heading up.”
Trevor May surrendered seven runs and recorded only eight outs in his second rehab start with Class AAA Rochester on Sunday. May, recovering from elbow surgery that kept him out of the entire 2017 season, walked four and gave up five hits, including a home run in Buffalo’s 11-2 victory over the Red Wings.
May is eligible to be activated from the 60-day disabled list, but in three rehab starts at Rochester, he has given up 11 runs in 10⅔ innings, a 9.28 ERA. He also has an option remaining, meaning the Twins could assign him to the minors while he regains his strength and control.
“We’ll just have to see when we feel he can make an impact on our team,” Molitor said. “I don’t think there has been any finality to when his [minor league assignment] is going to end.”