What Changed For Orlando Hudson

Orlando Hudson has been consistently productive this decade, but he signed the first multiyear deal of his career this month. Though Hudson's stats have fluctuated from season to season, it appears that his health and free agent ranking played more significant roles in determining his value on the open market.

The 33-year-old signed a two-year, $11.5MM deal with the Padres this offseason after agreeing to one-year contracts in each of the past two winters. Hudson signed a $5MM deal with the Twins for 2010 and a $3.8MM deal with the Dodgers for 2009.

At first glance, it appears that this offseason is the outlier, but teams were willing to offer the second baseman two-year contracts a year ago. The 2008-09 offseason is really the one that stands out.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported last offseason that the Indians offered Hudson a backloaded two-year, $10MM deal that included an option for a third year (Twitter link). The Nationals also appeared willing to offer Hudson a two-year deal at the right price last winter.

But in 2008-09, no teams appeared willing to make that sort of commitment to Hudson. It's probably not a coincidence that he was coming off a significant injury and was tied to draft pick compensation at the time. Hudson, who has finished the past two seasons in relatively good health, underwent surgery on his left wrist at the end of the 2008 season and didn't play after August 9th. It seems that his wrist operation detracted from his value. 

It cost a top draft pick to sign Hudson in the 2008-09 offseason, since the D'Backs offered him arbitration and he was a Type A free agent. But Hudson was not tied to draft pick compensation this offseason or last offseason, which has made signing him easier for clubs to justify.

Though health and draft pick compensation appear to have been major factors in determining Hudson's value, they aren't the only ones. The four-time Gold Glover posted below average UZR/150 numbers at second base in 2008 and 2009, but the metric suggests his defense was much better last year (12.0 UZR/150). However, his batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage all dropped from 2008 to 2009 and again from 2009 to 2010.

Hudson didn't play in the 2008 postseason and was benched in favor of Ronnie Belliard down the stretch in 2009 and in that year's playoffs. Those postseason results were likely secondary to health and draft pick compensation, but I doubt it hurt that Hudson had four playoff hits, including a homer, in 2010. 


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