Tim Hudson Rumors

West Notes: Mariners, Sandoval, Hudson, Astros, Castro, D’backs

The Mariners were in the mix for free agent catcher Russell Martin, reports MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince. It is not clear exactly what Seattle’s plans would have been with young backstop Mike Zunino, had they managed to land Martin, but it seems fair to assume that the club was only looking at the catching market for that specific player. Going forward, though, this report supports the idea that the M’s are indeed prepared to spend on the open market.

Here’s more from out west:

  • Gustavo Vasquez, the agent for third baseman Pablo Sandoval, plans to speak with the Giants by phone this evening after wrapping up a lengthy visit to Boston yesterday, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. His client could be on the horn as well, says Rosenthal. It is not yet known whether Sandoval came away from his visit with the Red Sox with a firm offer in hand.
  • Veteran Giants righty Tim Hudson says he is likely to retire after 2015, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). “I have one more year left on my contract, so I’m pretty sure that’s going to be it after this season,” Hudson said. “I just started my workouts yesterday, which is kind of crazy to me.”
  • The Astros are readying for another, “fresh look” at the possibility of working out extensions, GM Jeff Luhnow tells Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. Last year, of course, the club pursued several long-term deals with younger players, ultimately locking up Jon Singleton. Renewed exploration of a deal with catcher Jason Castro remains possible, said Luhnow, though Drellich reports that no talks are taking place at present. The catcher has consistently said he would be interested in a new deal to stay in Houston for the long run, though his name has come up as a possible trade candidate.
  • Discussions went pretty far down the line last year, with Drellich reporting that the club made Castro an offer after his stellar 2013 season. Per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation, that offer would have promised the now-27-year-old around $10MM for 2015-16 while conveying two option years (covering Castro’s first two seasons of free agent eligibility) to the team. Had they been exercised, the deal’s total value could have reached about $25MM. It is not hard to see why he declined that proposal, as Castro is projected by MLBTR/Matt Swartz to earn $3.9MM this year even after a rough 2014 campaign.
  • MLB.com’s Corey Brock takes a closer look at Ed Lewis, the Diamondbacks‘ newly-minted director of baseball analytics and research. Needless to say, Lewis’s background — he is a veterinarian by training — is an unusual one for a MLB executive. But chief baseball officer Tony La Russa says that Lewis has a track record of working with baseball numbers. “Ed gave me my first introduction to advanced analytics when he worked with our offensive preparation in St. Louis and I’ve always been impressed with his intelligence and integrity,” said La Russa (via press release). “It was clear that [GM Dave Stewart] and [president/CEO Derrick Hall] were also very impressed by his wealth of knowledge. He is a scientist who is mathematically inclined and he knows the game. Most importantly, he understands our approach to it.”

Quick Hits: Braves Outfielders, Romo, Hudson

Here are a few stray notes from around the game …

  • As I recently explored in my breakdown of the Braves‘ offseason-to-come, Atlanta faces some decisions in the outfield. David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution goes into more detail on the situations of the disappointing B.J. Upton and corner outfielders Justin Upton and Jason Heyward, both of whom will become free agents at season’s end. The Braves “seem prepared” to take a bath on the elder Upton’s long-term deal to move him off the roster, according to O’Brien, and if the can manage it would probably utilize Heyward or a stop-gap in center. Dealing one of the other two players while trying to extend the other has long been discussed as a plausible option, and O’Brien indicates that it is a realistic option to slide Evan Gattis into a corner role to fill any resulting void.
  • As far as extensions go, O’Brien says the Braves talked with Heyward’s representatives about a deal last winter. The team was interested in something that would have fallen well shy of Freddie Freeman‘s $135MM pact, says O’Brien, and Heyward’s asking price was well out of Atlanta’s comfort zone. His number has, in all likelihood, only gone up in the meantime, as Heyward just turned 25 and continues to rack up production — even though he has not returned to the offensive power ceiling he showed earlier in his career.
  • The Royals passed on a chance to sign Sergio Romo for a meager $1K bonus before the Giants eventually took a chance on the reliever, ESPN.com’s Keith Law tweets. While Kansas City certainly cannot be faulted for leaving the then-unheralded Romo behind, it surely would have been nice to have added him from the team’s perspective.
  • On the other hand, the Royals were willing to pay righty Tim Hudson, who said that K.C. made him a “very good offer” of two years this past offseason, as Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports on Twitter. Like Romo, the veteran ended up with the Giants — in his case, by choice — and will square off against the Royals in the World Series.

Quick Hits: Ramirez, Hitting Coaches, Hudson, Zito

Two-time NPB MVP Alex Ramirez has retired, Jun Hongo of the Wall Street Journal Japan reports. The 40-year-old Ramirez played briefly for the Indians and Pirates between 1998 and 2000, but it wasn’t until he headed to Yakult for the 2001 season that his career really got going. He hit 29 homers that year and quickly emerged as one of the most feared sluggers in Japan, hitting 40 or more home runs three times in his career. Ramirez finished his NPB career in 2013 with 380 homers for Yakult, Yomiuri and Yokohama, then played and coached last season with the independent Gunma Diamond Pegasus club. Here are more notes from around the Majors.

  • Athletics hitting coach Chili Davis has left the team to become the new hitting coach of the Red Sox, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com tweets. Davis hit 350 home runs in a 19-year career with the Giants, Angels, Twins, Royals and Yankees, then worked in the Dodgers and Red Sox systems before signing on with the Athletics prior to the 2012 season. In his previous stint with the Red Sox, Davis served as the hitting coach at Triple-A Pawtucket. The Red Sox will begin interviewing candidates for their assistant hitting coach position this week, Bradford and Alex Speier report.
  • With Davis out, the Athletics are now looking for a hitting coach, and one candidate is Angels assistant hitting coach Dave Hansen, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. The Angels could also promote Hansen to replace Don Baylor, who missed much of last season with a freak leg injury. Hansen, known as a pinch-hitter throughout much of his career, played 15 seasons with the Dodgers, Cubs, Padres and Mariners. The Athletics could also consider Rangers hitting coach Dave Magadan, Slusser tweets.
  • If the A’s do have interest in Magadan, the won’t be the only ones. Davis had previously been a top candidate for the open Yankees hitting coach job, and the Yankees could now turn to Magadan, who interviewed Wednesday, George A. King III and John DeMarzo of the New York Post report. The former infielder played 16 seasons with the Mets, Marlins, Mariners, Astros, Cubs, Athletics and Padres.
  • Barry Zito‘s seven-year contract with the Giants didn’t turn out so well, but he did help them land Tim Hudson, Ryan Hood of MLB.com writes. When both pitchers were free agents last winter, Hudson called his former Athletics teammate to see what he thought of playing in San Francisco. “I said it’s a first-rate organization, from the top down,” says Zito, who assured Hudson that Giants fans had changed since the two pitchers had played together in Oakland. “Giants fans had a little more of a rep of just coming out for baseball games and not really having a die-hard presence and creating an intimidating atmosphere. It was very light. I told him 2010 changed everything.” Hudson posted a 3.57 ERA with 5.7 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 in 189 1/3 innings for the Giants this season. Zito, meanwhile, says he determined in August 2013 that he would “take some time away from the game and focus on family.” He did not pitch this season.


Quick Hits: Hudson, Niese, Orioles, Lester

Giants starter Tim Hudson is baseball’s top unsung player, Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan writes. One reason Hudson’s greatness often goes unnoticed is that his key weapon is the grounder, not the strikeout. With a ground ball rate of 57.4% this season, though, he’s been spectacular, with a 1.81 ERA, 6.0 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 89 1/3 innings — all despite being an undersized 38-year-old who missed much of last season with a serious ankle injury. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter) that the club has the resources to be buyers at this year’s trade deadline.  Alderson went on to say that pitcher Jon Niese won’t be trade bait.
  • Orioles Executive VP Dan Duquette told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (via Twitter) that he wants bullpen help as well as better offensive production at second and third base.
  • Red Sox starter Jon Lester tells WEEI’s Rob Bradford that he still wants to stay in Boston. “It’s all I’ve really known,” Lester says. “You don’t see many guys that get drafted by a team and end up staying there their whole career. It’s just something that I’ve always … wanted to do.” Lester cites his relationships with members of the Red Sox’s front office, and points out that his wife and kids would have to start their social lives anew if they were to move to a new city. Basic considerations like these rarely enter conversations about why a player might choose to sign with, or stay with, a team, but they’re clearly important. Lester, who is eligible for free agency after the season, says negotiations with the Red Sox will hinge on “what we think is a discount and still fair.”

Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.


NL West Notes: Hudson, Lyles, Pennington, Webb

Giants veteran Tim Hudson clarified recently that he bears no ill will toward his prior team, the Braves, as Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Though he was initially offended when Atlanta offered him only $2MM on a one-year deal, Hudson said that the club ultimately made multiple, “fair offers at the end.” Hudson, who ultimately signed a two-year, $23MM deal, continued: “I totally understand [the Braves’] side of things. I’m not and wasn’t bitter at all.”

Here’s more out of the NL West, with an unfortunate focus on injuries:

  • The struggling Rockies received bad news last night with starter Jordan Lyles going down with a broken left hand, reports Nick Groke of the Denver Post. Though the injury was to Lyles’s non-pitching hand, he will hit the DL, though the precise prognosis remains unknown. Colorado has already dipped into its prospect ranks to call up Eddie Butler, and could again look to the minors (or displaced starter Franklin Morales) to cover for the absences of Lyles, Brett Anderson, and Tyler Chatwood. In concert with the team’s slide in the standings, it is looking increasingly unlikely that the Rockies will look to add to the club over the summer; now fully eight games back in the NL West, the team may soon be pegged a seller.
  • Diamondbacks middle infielder Cliff Pennington has undergone surgery for a torn ligament in his left thumb, the club announced. He is not expected to begin baseball activities for eight to ten weeks. As I noted yesteday, the injury — especially given its newly-reported severity — could potentially have some impact on how the club proceeds over the summer. It is also bad news for Pennington’s upcoming free agency; the 29-year-old, who is in the back end of a two-year, $5MM deal, has slashed just .242/.313/.312 through 382 plate appearances with Arizona.
  • Former Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb looked back at the disappointing run of shoulder injuries that derailed his career, in a piece from MLB.com’s Barry Bloom. His initial shoulder troubles seemingly emerged out of nowhere one afternoon, but Webb never returned to a big league mound despite years of trying. “That was the most frustrating part, never being able to come back, especially when everything seemed to look fine in the pictures and all that,” says Webb. “That was the toughest part, to go from the top of the game, probably one of the best pitchers in the game, to be done.” Then-pitching coach Bryan Price says that it remains difficult to draw any lessons from Webb’s situation. “If you look back at his delivery, there wasn’t a reason,” he said. “He pitched a lot, but he was a low pitch-count guy. It’s one of those things that we’ll be left to guess about.”

Mets Notes: Duda, Young, Abreu, Bullpen, Colon

Chris Young's tenure with the Mets isn't off to an ideal start, as the outfielder has already been placed on the disabled list with a quad injury sustained in the cold weather on Wednesday. Young called the situation a "bad dream" when talking with MLB.com's Anthony DiComo, who also spoke to manager Terry Collins about the $7.25MM man's early DL stint. More on the Amazin's as some teams wrap up their opening series…

  • Manager Terry Collins told reporters earlier today that the Mets will give one first baseman a chance to prove himself beginning tomorrow, and Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports that it will be Lucas Duda, not Ike Davis (Twitter links). Duda will be given a "real shot" to prove he can hold the job down, according to Martino.

Earlier Updates

  • Bobby Abreu's minor league deal with the Mets is worth $800K, and he can opt out if not on the Major League roster by April 30, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter). Abreu signed with the Mets after his release from the Phillies late last month.
  • The Mets' bullpen woes only increased today, as a variety of arms struggled once again in action against the Nationals. The focal point of that general concern, of course, is injured closer Bobby Parnell, who figures to be out for at least six weeks and possibly much longer. As Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes, replacing Parnell is a delicate balancing act. An outside addition is always possible, of course, but the options are limited. And while the team may well look to some young arms to bolster the MLB relief corps before long, it will need to be careful not to stunt the development of the team's key prospects.
  • Martino also examined Bartolo Colon's importance to the Mets, and in doing so revealed that the Mets were the only club to offer Colon a multi-year deal. The Mets knew they needed to overpay after five losing seasons, according to Martino, who adds that Tim Hudson was willing to pitch for the Mets earlier in the offseason prior to signing a two-year, $23MM deal with the Giants.

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.


Pitching Notes: Johnson, Arroyo, Hudson, Colon

Now that Tim Hudson has signed with the Giants, executives around baseball think the pitching market will begin to open up, Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan tweets.  One GM predicts Josh Johnson will be the next hurler to sign, and there has been no shortage of interest in the right-hander, as agent Matt Sosnick claimed that he'd spoken to nearly every team about his client.  The Rangers and Royals have both been linked to Johnson, and the pitcher himself reached out to the Padres and Giants to express his interest.

Here's the latest about some of the offseason's available starters…

  • One team that doesn't appear to be in the mix for Johnson are the Blue Jays, his most recent club.  The Jays haven't made any progress with Johnson, MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm reports, and there aren't any signs that they're even continuing negotiations.  Johnson was open to returning to Toronto though his contract demands seem to be higher than the Jays are willing to pay.
  • Bronson Arroyo listed the Giants, Twins, Phillies, Angels, Dodgers and "maybe" the Orioles as teams he thinks have called to express their interest in his services, the veteran righty said during an interview with Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM.  Arroyo discussed what he's looking for in a team and what his contract expectations are during the interview; MLB.com's Mark Sheldon has a partial transcript and an audio link to the full interview.
  • The Braves offered Hudson a two-year contract earlier this week but it wasn't enough, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.  The Braves' previous offer to Hudson was a one-year deal worth less than $9MM (his annual salary in each of the previous four seasons) which clearly wasn't enough with so many other teams in the mix.  O'Brien says the Braves could add another veteran to replace Hudson.
  • The Athletics were second in the Hudson race behind the Giants, ESPN's Buster Olney reports (Twitter link).  That's a bit of a surprise for the low-payroll A's but Hudson would've made sense on a short-term deal, plus he has long-time ties to the franchise.
  • If the A's had signed Hudson, they would've ended their pursuit of Bartolo Colon, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links).  Hudson would "probably more trustworthy" an option than Colon in the Oakland rotation, though the A's still have interest in re-signing Colon at a "price they deem reasonable."
  • In an interview with Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM, Scott Feldman said his agent had heard from "15 teams or so" but "it's been a slow-developing market so far" (Twitter links).
  • The Twins still haven't made a formal offer to Ricky Nolasco, 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson tweets.  This is no change from the last update about Nolasco and the Twins, though the club is definitely interested in the free agent righty.

Giants Notes: Hudson, Lopez, Arroyo, Haren

The Giants' two-year, $23MM deal with Tim Hudson is drawing praise from several pundits.  MLBTR's Steve Adams, Fangraphs' Dave Cameron and ESPN's Keith Law all see the contract as a possible steal for the Giants since even coming off a fractured ankle, Hudson doesn't carry as many question marks as other starters who may command much larger deals.  Here's some more on the Giants…

  • The Giants don't like any of the free agent options to fill their hole in left field and will look to trade for outfield help at the Winter Meetings, CSNBayArea.com's Andrew Baggarly reports.  The club could end up settling for a left-handed hitter to platoon with Gregor Blanco in left.
  • Also from Baggarly, the Giants have made some progress in talks with Javier Lopez.
  • The Giants are still looking for a left fielder and one more starting pitcher, ESPN's Buster Olney reports.  Olney guesses that Bronson Arroyo or Ryan Vogelsong could be that pitcher, depending on which contract is the better fit (Twitter links).  Vogelsong would obviously come at a much lower price than Arroyo, though if San Francisco could cheaply address their left field situation, I could see them spending extra to acquire Arroyo.
  • The Giants checked in on Dan Haren, Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Twitter link) but "other teams [were] far more aggressive," according to a source.  The Twins and Yankees have been linked to Haren so far this offseason.
  • Also from Schulman, it seems as if the Giants aren't going to offer any starter more than three guaranteed years.  This could keep them from landing Ricky Nolasco, who is looking for a four-year contract.

Giants Sign Tim Hudson

The Giants made another move to fortify their rotation by signing right-hander Tim Hudson to a two-year, $23MM contract.  Hudson will earn $11MM in 2014 and $12MM in 2015, and the deal contains a no-trade clause.  The agreement became official once Hudson passed a physical, which was not a foregone conclusion given the ugly ankle fracture that prematurely ended Hudson's 2013 season.Hudson-Tim

The 38-year-old suffered the freak ankle injury when Eric Young stepped on his foot on a play at first base on July 24.  However, prior to the injury, Hudson had reversed a slow start to the season and caught fire over a span of 10 starts. From June 1 through July 24, Hudson turned in a 2.73 ERA with a 50-to-19 K/BB ratio — a stretch that left his season line at 3.97 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a 55.8 percent ground-ball rate. That marks the seventh consecutive season of a sub-4.00 ERA for Hudson and the 13th such season in his strong 15-year career.

Hudson drew interest from as many as half the teams in the league, but news that he could approach $24MM over two years likely caused some interested parties to back off. Hudson had a surgical screw removed from his ankle 11 days ago and should be running by the end of the month. The Braves made an offer to retain him, but Atlanta's efforts topped out at one year and a lower salary than the $9MM he made in 2013. In addition to Atlanta, the Red Sox were said to be highly interested in Hudson. The Indians, Royals, Rangers and A's all expressed interest as well.

Hudson becomes the third member of MLBTR's Top 50 Free Agent list to sign, though his two-year contract and $11.5MM annual value is significantly better than the prediction I offered in my free agent profile for Hudson.  Hudson is represented by agent Paul Cohen of TWC Sports.

Hudson will join a GIants rotation that will be fronted by Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain and also features a returning Tim Lincecum. Sabean has been highly aggressive to this point, landing Hudson in the early stages of free agency and reaching extensions with Lincecum and Hunter Pence to prevent them from ever hitting the open market.

News that the two sides were nearing an agreement on a two-year, $23MM contract was first reported by Steve Berman.  John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter links) broke the news that Hudson and the Giants had agreed to terms and had the salary breakdown.  CSN Bay Area's Andrew Baggarly confirmed Hudson's no-trade clause, which was first reported on by ESPN's Buster Olney (Twitter links).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images


Giants Gamble On Injury To Secure Hudson Below Market Value

If we could rewind to the start of the eighth inning of the Braves' 8-2 victory over the Mets on July 24 and see that Tim Hudson would agree to a two-year, $23MM contract with San Francisco (as he did earlier this afternoon), we'd assume that the Giants had a relative steal on their hands. Fast forward a few minutes, and the reason for the perceived bargain would become clear; Hudson suffered an ankle fracture that inning that ended his season and cast some doubt on his readiness for 2014.

Hudson has since had a surgical screw removed from the ankle, hopes to be running by the end of the month. While he comes with a great deal of uncertainty, Giants general manager Brian Sabean and his staff have decided to roll the dice on Hudson's health, knowing that should his ankle hold up and be ready for Opening Day, they'll have a bargain on their hands.

Consider that this time last offseason, Ryan Dempster received a two-year, $26.5MM contract coming off a season that saw him finish with a 5.09 ERA (4.08 FIP) in the 69 innings he spent with the Rangers. Had Hudson finished the year as strongly as he'd been pitching (2.73 ERA over his previous 10 starts), he could have been in line for $30MM over the next two seasons or even a three-year deal — a goal that Bronson Arroyo has been rumored to have a shot at reaching. From Opening Day 2010 through the date of his injury, Hudson had topped Arroyo in terms of innings pitched while turning in better ERA, strikeout and ground-ball numbers. Hudson's a year older, but he'd be in the conversation to match or exceed Arroyo's eventual contract, and that figures to greatly exceed $23MM.

Sabean's contract for Tim Lincecum (two years, $35MM) drew some flak that seemed to be well-deserved at the time, but the prices for starting pitching on the open market are clearly going up. Pitchers such as Ricky Nolasco seem destined to easily eclipse $50MM, while Ervin Santana, who was little more than a salary dump a year ago at this time, could be in line for $75MM or more. Sabean decided to retain Lincecum at a rate that may end up being in line with market value and elected to use a non-arm injury to acquire Hudson at a rate that's likely below what even last season's market value would have been.

There's certainly risk in adding a 38-year-old starter coming off season-ending ankle surgery, but weighed against the risk of adding an inconsistent starter such as Nolasco, Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez on four- or five-year deal, this seems to be a chance worth taking for the Giants. By adding Hudson and retaining Lincecum for a combined $58MM over the next two seasons, the Giants have risked a similar total to what Nolasco will command over four years and solidified the No. 3-4 spots in their rotation over a shorter term in the process.