Tim Hudson Rumors

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.

Orioles Notes: Wieters, McLouth, Beltran, Pitching

The Orioles have been one of the most mentioned teams on MLBTR with the club trying to decide whether to extend or trade Matt Wieters and approaching the Cardinals about a J.J. HardyShelby Miller trade. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com weighs in on those and other topics in a "Because You Asked" column:

  • The Hardy-Miller talks were just preliminary, but not unexpected because of the Orioles' quest for starting pitching and the Cardinals' need for a shortstop. Kubatko sees the O's acquiring a starter and keeping Hardy.
  • Wieters is not untouchable and the Orioles are willing to trade him, but are not feverishly shopping the catcher. Financial constraints are compounding the Wieters situation, as the front office is trying to figure out how to accomodate within their budget the pursuit of free agents like Carlos Beltran and arbitration raises for Wieters and others (MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects $41.2MM for eight arbitration eligible players).
  • There is no progress in negotiations with outfielder Nate McLouth. The Orioles are concerned with other clubs offering him a two-year deal. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted two years and $10MM for McLouth to which a person in the Orioles organization, when asked by Kubatko late in the season, responded: "Well, he won't be getting that from us."
  • Kubatko suggests the Orioles swallow hard and give McLouth a two-year contract since they did so for Wilson Betemit. If re-signed, Kubatko doesn't necessarily see McLouth as the full-time starter in left, but a valuable fourth outfielder, occasional DH, pinch-runner, and defensive replacement.
  • The Orioles like Carlos Beltran and see him as a great fit; but, will have to outbid some big spending teams, which they haven't done historically.
  • One option worth debating to free up payroll space for Beltran, according to Kubatko, is trading Jim Johnson and his expected $10.8MM arbitration salary. The Orioles have said they intend to keep their closer.
  • Kubatko spoke with someone in the organization recently who steered him away from Scott Kazmir, as if the Orioles have no interest. The O's, however, do have interest in Tim Hudson.
  • There is a definite possibility Brian Roberts will return to Baltimore. If not, Mark Ellis is on the club's radar as an alternative because he won't command a three-year deal like Omar Infante

Quick Hits: Young, Hawkins, Braden, Girardi

The White Sox owe it to Paul Konerko to bring him back for a final season in 2014 if the long-time first baseman wishes to keep playing, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune opines.  The Sox would have to release or trade Adam Dunn to make room for Konerko with Jose Dariel Abreu now aboard, and while eating Dunn's contract would be expensive, Sullivan argues that Dunn is already a sunk cost and not worth keeping if it means cutting ties with a franchise icon.

Here are some more items from around baseball tonight…

  • Chris Young would like to play for the Astros but the free outfielder didn't say if he'd been contacted by the team, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets.  Young, a Houston native, has drawn some level of interest from the Red Sox and Mets this winter.
  • Also from McTaggart, LaTroy Hawkins said he hasn't been contacted by the Astros this offseason, though the veteran has other "irons in the fire."  The Astros are looking for bullpen help and Hawkins has a connection to Houston, having pitched for the club in 2008-09.  As many as seven teams, however, have already shown interest in Hawkins, including the Rockies and Mets.
  • Dallas Braden tells Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link) that he intends to try out for teams when he increases his stamina.  After throwing a perfect game in 2010, Braden made just three starts in 2011 and hasn't pitched since due to a pair of shoulder surgeries.  The southpaw elected free agency from the A's following the 2012 season.
  • Brian Cashman tells reporters (including The Chicago Sun-Times Gordon Wittenmyer) that he always expected Joe Girardi to return to manage the Yankees, despite the rumors that Girardi would join the Cubs.  Wittenmyer believes the Cubs' reported "back-channel communication" to try and woo Girardi "underscored an ongoing disconnect between the Cubs’ baseball and business sides of the operation."
  • The qualifying offer may not be the hindrance to some free agents as it appears, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal argues.  Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse were last offseason's two infamous examples of how a draft pick compensation tag could hurt a player's market, but MacPherson opines that the Baseball Prospectus PECOTA system projected Bourn and Lohse as worth the contracts they eventually signed with the Indians and Brewers, respectively.
  • If the Rockies could somehow get Justin Morneau at a reasonable price, he would make an ideal platoon partner for Michael Cuddyer and Jordan Pacheco, Troy Renck of the Denver Post opines (Sulia link).
  • A member of the Yankees baseball operations staff predicts Phil Hughes will sign with an NL West team, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (via Twitter).  The flyball-prone Hughes could be greatly helped by pitching at AT&T Park, Petco Park or Dodger Stadium, though Chase Field or Coors Field aren't good fits.  The source says Hughes is a "good fit in Minnesota," and the Twins and Royals are the only teams linked to Hughes so far this offseason.
  • Though Tim Hudson is 38 and coming off a nasty broken ankle, a National League talent evaluator still picked the veteran righty as the best risk amongst free agent pitchers who are at least 33 years old, SI.com's Tom Verducci reports.  Bartolo Colon, Roy Halladay, Dan Haren and Ryan Vogelsong round out the top five.

Olney’s Latest: Nolasco, Twins, Joba, Royals, Peralta, Headley

Major League Baseball is in a race against the clock to change the rules and eliminate home-plate collisions, writes ESPN's Buster Olney in his latest Insider-only column. MLB GMs were "100 percent" in favor when the issue of a rule-change was raised at the GM Meetings this week, says Olney. As one team lawyer pointed out to Olney, MLB has no choice but to scramble to get something in place for next season: "Everybody has said that there needs to be a change [in the rules], and if somebody gets hurt [in 2014] they could sue and claim that Major League Baseball knew there was a problem and didn’t do anything about it." Here are just a few of the highlights from Olney's highly informative piece:

  • Ricky Nolasco already has a three-year offer in hand, and that same team has indicated that it may be willing to extend the offer to four years. Nolasco's agent, Matt Sosnick, told Olney that his client's preference is still to return to the Dodgers.
  • Teams are racing to make their best offers to pitchers like Tim Hudson and Bronson Arroyo, knowing that those arms might not require the potential four- and five-year deals that Nolasco, Ervin Santana, Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez are targeting.
  • The Twins have made it clear that they're looking to sign two good veteran arms, and in a separate tweet Olney notes that they're being very aggressive on the free agent market. In addition to their interest in Arroyo, it's possible that they're in on Nolasco, says Olney.
  • The Royals have had internal discussions about adding Joba Chamberlain on a one-year deal, and as Olney points out, Kansas City pitching coach Dave Eiland was Chamberlain's pitching coach with the Yankees earlier in his career.
  • The Royals would also like to sign Josh Johnson to a one-year deal in an attempt to recreate the magic of last year's Santana acquisition.
  • Jhonny Peralta is looking for "huge" money, according to Olney's sources. Olney writes that Peralta is seeking "much" more than three years and $45MM. I predicted a three-year, $36MM pact for Peralta in my recent free agent profile of the former Tiger.
  • The Padres haven't had any extension talks with Chase Headley this offseason, and as it stands right now, there are no plans to begin negotiations.

Giants Notes: Hudson, Sandoval, Haren

The latest out of San Francisco..

  • One of the Giants’ chief pitching targets, Tim Hudson, is now willing to move across the country to pitch for the right team, sources tell Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.  Schulman also hears that the Braves offered him a contract with a significantly smaller salary than he earned last year ($9MM), one he is not inclined to accept.
  • Schulman also caught up with MLB Network's Peter Gammons in Orlando, who told him the Giants are getting a lot of calls on Pablo Sandoval. It would make sense to listen on Sandoval because he is only signed through 2014 and has an injury history, but both reporters have heard that San Francisco not inclined to trade him because they have no real alternatives at third base.  The Giants also can't afford to lose Sandoval's power.
  • David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (on Twitter) hears the Giants are serious about signing a Hudson or Dan Haren type to a one- or two-year deal with a higher average salary than one might expect.

AL Central Rumors: Hughes, Royals, Pierzynski, Twins

The Royals are among the clubs with interest in free agent pitcher Phil Hughes, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  Kansas City pitching coach Dave Eiland knows Hughes well from his time spent with the Yankees and is a fan of his.  A return to New York isn't in the cards as both sides recognize that a change of scenery would be best.  The latest from the AL Central…

MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post

Blue Jays Notes: Catching, Arencibia, Kawasaki, Davis

Here's the latest on the Blue Jays, who look set for another busy offseason…

  • The Jays have made inquiries about such catchers as Carlos Ruiz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and A.J. Pierzynski, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi reports.  Davidi also suspects Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos has checked in on Brian McCann, to boot. 
  • The Jays were known to be looking to improve behind the plate this winter and current catcher J.P. Arencibia has drawn trade interest from other teams.  Davidi says there is some feeling that Arencibia has too much "accumulated baggage" in Toronto and might not reach his potential in a Blue Jay uniform.  Arencibia is projected to earn $2.8MM as a first-time arbitration eligible player this winter and the Jays would certainly prefer getting something back for him in a trade than simply non-tendering him.
  • Ervin Santana, Tim Hudson and Hiroki Kuroda have all received calls from the Blue Jays, Davidi reports, noting that Hudson and Kuroda probably don't have any mutual interest.  Hudson is being courted by over 10 teams while Kuroda seems to be set on either re-signing with the Yankees, returning to pitch in Japan or retiring.
  • Also from Davidi, Munenori Kawasaki could sign a new minor league deal with the Jays that would pay him more than the $600K base salary he earned last season.
  • In another piece from Davidi, Melky Cabrera is looking much healthier and fit after a tumor was surgically removed from his spine, Anthopoulos said.  Cabrera looks to be the Jays' everyday choice in left field, though obviously that could change if he suffers a setback in his rehabilitation.
  • Rajai Davis is likely to leave the Jays for a team that can offer him more playing time, Davidi reports.  The club's hope is that Anthony Gose or Moises Sierra can be a low-cost replacement for Davis as a backup outfielder.
  • Sierra is out of options and "is a prime candidate to be shopped," MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm writes.  Brad Lincoln could also be part of a trade package, as Chisholm breaks down possible scenarios for the Jays' nine out-of-options players. 

Crasnick On Cano, Tanaka, Price, Ellsbury

ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick checked in with 21 general managers, assistant GMs, player personnel people, and scouts to get their take on some of the biggest storylines of the winter.  Here's a look at some of the highlights..

  • Almost everyone sees Robinson Cano staying put with 19 votes for the Yankees, one vote for the Dodgers, and one for the Cubs.  Nearly everyone sees Cano getting a seven- or eight-year deal worth $160MM-$230MM and no one expects him to approach the $300MM figure he was asking for from the Bombers earlier this year.  It should be noted that the GM that picked the Cubs said that he has no inside info to support that pick.
  • Nine execs see Masahiro Tanaka landing with the Dodgers while six chose the Yankees.  All but a handful of those surveyed think his payout will exceed the $60MM Yu Darvish got from the Rangers.  Tanaka is ranked as the top available pitcher by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes.
  • Seventeen of the 21 participants in the survey say David Price will get traded this winter.  Where will he land?  The Rangers got nine votes and the Dodgers got four nods with one vote each for the Nationals, Cardinals, Angels, and Astros.
  • Opinions were somewhat split on whether Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo fChoo will provide better value over the course of their next deals.  Twelve execs said Ellsbury, eight voted for Choo, and one GM declined to vote, saying that neither one will match what they get.
  • When asked to pick the best pitcher between Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, and Ubaldo Jimenez, ten execs chose Garza.  Most seemed to agree that the lack of quality starting pitching available will lead to all three being overpaid.  One American League scout seemed to like Jimenez on some level but was skeptical of him long-term.  "Ubaldo has the best chance to give you impact in the short term, but I am not buying him over the course of 3-4 years," the scout said.
  • When asked which former Yankees prospect has a better chance of succeeding elsewhere with a change of scenery, Phil Hughes was the overwhelming choice over Joba Chamberlain.
  • Crasnick asked the execs which aging pitcher had the most left in the tank between Roy Halladay, Hiroki Kuroda, and Tim Hudson.  Kuroda had the backing of 12 people surveyed, Hudson got eight votes, and Halladay had just one exec in his corner.  "Maybe the chances of [Halladay] coming back aren't real good if you look at it objectively," a scout said. "But if the guy wants to [keep pitching] and be successful, I wouldn't put it past him."

Orioles Intrigued By Tim Hudson

The Orioles are intrigued by free agent starter Tim Hudson and have discussed him internally, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.  The 38-year-old righty fits the Orioles' profile, and the O's have Braves connections in recent hires Dave Wallace and Dom Chiti.

The Orioles will keep close tabs on Hudson, reports Kubatko, as he recovers from this summer's season-ending ankle surgery.  Hudson, profiled by MLBTR's Steve Adams here, has already drawn interest from the Rockies, Giants, Red Sox, Athletics, Rangers, Indians, and Royals among others, plus the Braves would like to re-sign him.  Yahoo's Jeff Passan has suggested a two-year, $24MM deal for Hudson, who will benefit from the smaller requirement to sign him compared to the market's younger starters, plus the lack of a qualifying offer.

The Orioles are not likely to pursue Scott Kazmir, notes Kubatko.  The O's have four starters penciled in for 2014: Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Wei-Yin Chen, and Bud Norris.  Scott Feldman and Jason Hammel are now free agents after contributing to the Orioles' rotation in 2013.