The Milwaukee Brewers decided against retaining Hughes’ services, for an estimated $2.2MM, which was a fairly interesting decision for a team that plans to compete next season.
Playoff bullpens need to have players of his caliber. With a 1.2 WAR last year and a 3.02 ERA, Hughes consistently outperforms his peripherals (career 4.06 FIP to a 2.85 ERA).
The 32-year old doesn’t have particularly impressive strikeout or walk numbers, but does his best work when keeping runners off the bases and forcing hitters to hit the ball on the ground. With the seventh best ground ball percentage among relievers last season, the formula certainly seems to work, and he would like what his infielders can do defensively in San Francisco.
The 2017 season did see encouraging seasons from righties like Sam Dyson, Cory Gearrin, Hunter Strickland, and Kyle Crick, so it may be difficult to see a spot where he would fit. However, one of those names may be ineffective next season, and adding Hughes as a ground ball specialist would not be a terrible idea for this group of relievers.
If the team ends up having too many capable relievers for too few spots, that is a good problem (and perhaps one we haven’t seen from this franchise in several years).
One of those aforementioned players can get work at Triple-A in case of injury, or be used in some other capacity (i.e. traded).