Following the conclusion of this year's World Series, the Braves will have three days to decide on whether or not to exercise a $9MM option on Tim Hudson or pay a $1MM buyout. It seems practically inevitable that they'll pick up the option, but David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Hudson is hoping for more than just one final year as a Brave:
"I’d love to stay here,” said Hudson … who’s been with the Braves for eight seasons. “Obviously for next year, but I’d love to stay here as long as they’ll have me.”
Hudson, 37, pitched to a 3.62 ERA with a 5.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 179 1/3 innings of work for the Braves this season. His 55.5 percent ground-ball rate ranked seventh in all of baseball among qualified starters, but still represented a noticeable departure from the 62.2 percent mark he posted from 2007-10.
The sinkerballer missed time with bone spurs in his ankle this season, but told O'Brien that he believes the back surgery he underwent last November has prolonged his career:
“I felt better this year than I have in a while, except for the ankle,” he said. “My arm felt great all year, my back never gave me any problems, so that was definitely encouraging. I feel good that I can pitch for a while longer.”
The Braves, of course, don't have to decide on a long-term extension right now. Hudson would like to discuss such a deal this offseason, but the Braves could simply wait to see how he fares in 2013 before deciding on his fate. There are some signs for concern that would merit such caution. Hudson's ERA rose in both 2011 and 2012, his ground-ball rate declined in each of those seasons, and his 5.1 K/9 in 2012 was his lowest since 2004. Hudson's sinker also averaged just 89 mph — a full 1.5 mph drop from 2011.
The Alabama native has been with the Braves since being acquired from the Athletics following the 2004 season. In hindsight, that trade looks like a steal, as the Braves gave up just Juan Cruz, Dan Meyer and Charles Thomas. While all three were highly regarded, none developed into a superstar. Hudson, meanwhile, has pitched to a 3.52 ERA in 1,441 2/3 innings for the Braves.