Tim Hudson Rumors
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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. Hardy-Shelby 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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
- With Ervin Santana looking for a $100MM contract, the Royals are prepared to move on to look for other pitching options, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star writes. Besides Hughes, the Royals also have interest in Tim Hudson and Josh Johnson. "We want a bat, but in our meetings, the main thing we talk about is finding someone to put between [James] Shields and [Jeremy] Guthrie," one Royals official said.
- In regards to those bats, Dutton says the Royals have interest in bringing Carlos Beltran back to Kansas City and maybe signing Rafael Furcal as a second baseman. Furcal may have enough suitors to remain at shortstop if he wants.
- A Twins source tells 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson that "we can only hope" on the possibility of A.J. Pierzynski signing with the team. Wolfson notes that Pierzynski might be more apt to sign with a contender, however. The Twins are rumored to be taking an interest in the catching market since Joe Mauer will be a full-time first baseman in 2014.
- With Rick Porcello reportedly being shopped, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press wonders the Tigers and Twins could swing an intra-division trade.
- In his latest piece on fixing the Twins, Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN looks at how much money Minnesota can spend this winter and how they can best allocate it.
- While the top catching option available (Brian McCann) could land a nine-figure deal, the White Sox appear to match up with free agent Jarrod Saltalamacchia, writes Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com. Chicago would like an improvement behind the plate after neither Tyler Flowers nor Josh Phegley impressed last season.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post
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.