Yanks mulled qualifying offer for Hughes but that's a non-starter now

Right-hander Phil Hughes just lost his spot in the Yankees' starting rotation. And now he's lost just about all chance for the Yankees to make him a qualifying offer.

Don't laugh.

Yankees people, as recently as the trade deadline, were suggesting to other teams that they may make the qualifying offer, which is expected to be for about $13.8 million, to Hughes.

According to rivals, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was saying back in July when trade talks were going on that they "may" extend the qualifying offer to Hughes. But things changed with Hughes' souring fortune; he's 0-6 in his last 10 starts. And one competing GM said recently about the idea of the Yankees possibly extending that offer to Hughes, tongue in cheek, "They may make a qualifying offer. And I may run for president."

Back at the deadline, though, it didn't seem quite as far-fetched that the Yankees may make Hughes the qualifying offer. The starting pitching market is decidedly thin, Hughes is the youngest established starter available at a just-turned 27, and there's a general belief that he'd be much better away from Yankee Stadium, which is backed up by the numbers. (Those numbers show a 1-9 record and 5.68 ERA at home and a 3-4 mark coupled with 3.84 away from home.)

Cashman, asked within the past couple weeks about the viability of giving Hughes a qualifying offer, declined comment on the team's plans, as has been their public stance on such things. The Yankees benefitted last year by extending qualifying offers to Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano, and they picked up two extra first-round picks when those two players signed elsewhere.

Now it looks like the Yankees will get nothing for Hughes, who is down to 4-13 with a 4.86 ERA after his recent slide.

While the Yankees found the Hughes trade market decidedly underwhelming (at least two N.L. teams showed interest but no one came close to trading for Hughes), there aren't many young starters free this year so someone will take a chance on him.

In the meantime, he's in the pen for the Yankees.

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