With the departure of David Price and Chris Sale‘s full status as yet unknown, the Red Sox bolstered their pitching with the addition of free agent Collin McHugh on Thursday.
According to reporting by Sean McAdam, McHugh will earn $600,000 in salary for 2020 but has incentives that could net him as much as $3.625 million. Jon Heyman reported that McHugh’s incentives are triggered by innings pitched, with the first threshold at 30.0 IP. The incentive-heavy deal makes sense for a pitcher who is looking to re-establish himself as an option for the starting rotation.
To clear room on the roster for McHugh, the Red Sox designated Hector Velazquez for assignment.
Journey to Boston
An Illinois native, McHugh was originally drafted by the Mets in the 18th round of of the 2008 amateur draft and made his big league debut with that club in 2012. Mid-season 2013 McHugh was traded to the Rockies in a deal that sent Eric Young, Jr. to New York, but then placed on Colorado waivers.
The Astros signed McHugh and in Houston the righty put together some solid seasons, starting with an 11-9, 2.73 ERA record over his first 25 starts with the team in 2014. His work garnered him Rookie of the Year attention, ultimately ranking fourth in American League voting. Since his first year in Houston McHugh’s .624 winning percentage is 6th-best among AL pitchers with 75 or more decisions (former Boston pitcher Price tops that list at .658, Sale ranks 9th).
McHugh transitioned to a bullpen role with the Astros in 2018, recording a stellar 1.99 ERA over 58 appearances.
Efforts last season to return to the rotation went poorly, however, for McHugh with an ERA that ballooned to 6.37 over his first eight starts. After heading back to relief work, and despite a six-week stint on the injured list, McHugh recorded a 2.67 ERA in 27 relief appearances the rest of the season. His last game of 2019 came August 30 after which he was shutdown for elbow discomfort. In all, McHugh missed 60 games on the IL in 2019.
McHugh by the numbers
McHugh’s arsenal consists mostly of sliders (which he throws 43% of the time) and four-seamers (32%), with a mix of cutters (12%), curves (8%), changeups (3%) and sinkers (1%), too. In 2019 the average velocity of his fastball was 90.8 MPH.
Overall last season righties were 39-for-148 (.264) with 37 strikeouts and lefties were 23-for-132 (.174) with 45 SO against McHugh. Under 30% of his 2019 contact was hard hit, putting him in the Top 10% of the league for such contact.
Collin McHigh attended Berry College in Mount Berry, GA, and became the first player in school history to reach the major leagues. McHugh hosts an infrequent podcast called The Twelve Six. He and wife Ashley have a son named Elder. Welcome @Collin_McHugh to Red Sox Nation.