Royals among contenders as Phil Hughes considers new home

ORLANDO -- The Royals have emerged as a suitor for starting pitcher Phil Hughes, who could be the bargain of the winter after a season of abject underachievement.

Though the Royals haven't been connected to Hughes in the past, it should come as no shock that they have interest. Kansas City pitching coach Dave Eiland is a longtime Hughes supporter who was also raised in the Yankees organization and knew Hughes well from his days coaching there.

Hughes was 4-14 with a 5.19 ERA in 2013, awful numbers made worse by his troubles at Yankee Stadium, where he couldn't keep the ball in the park. Both sides understand it's time for a change. Hughes, a Southern California native, has been suggested as making sense for the Padres, Giants and Angels among West Coast teams.

But they will all have to beat out the Royals, who no doubt appreciate that Hughes is still just 27, has had seasons with 18 and 16 wins, and as a player who received no qualifying offer, has no draft choice attached to his signing.

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