Tim Hudson Rumors
The NLCS is taking a day off as the scene shifts to Los Angeles for Game 3 tomorrow night with the Cardinals leading the Dodgers 2-0. Here is the latest news and notes out of the National League today:
- The Rockies need to improve their talent acquisition via the draft and Latin America in order to overcome the crushing injuries suffered in recent seasons, according to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post. Tim Hudson, whose free agency was profiled this past week by MLBTR's Steve Adams, would make a perfect middle-of-the-rotation starter for the Rockies, Renck opines.
- The Pirates' payroll will increase significantly in 2014 aiding their efforts to retain free agents Marlon Byrd and A.J. Burnett while also trying to sign Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez to long-term extensions, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Biertempfel.
- The Mets will face a dilemma with their 40-man roster when it comes time to protect minor league players from the Rule 5 draft, reports ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin. The Mets' 40-man roster is currently full and will be so again once the eight players on the 60-day disabled list replace the eight pending free agents on the 40-man. Jordany Valdespin headlines Rubin's list of eight Mets who could lose their roster spot.
- The Reds' managerial search is centered on pitching coach Bryan Price and Triple-A manager Jim Riggleman, writes John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Fay expects Price to get the job; but, if neither candidate impresses ownership in upcoming interviews, the search may be expanded.
- Nationals third-base coach Trent Jewett has an excellent shot to become the team's next manager, reports ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider subscription required).
After a slow start to his 2013 campaign, Tim Hudson was on a serious hot streak before a fractured ankle -- suffered while covering first base on a grounder -- put an end to his season in late July. Hudson won't have the luxury of hitting free agency off another 200-inning season, but there should still be plenty of teams interested in the TWC Sports client.
Hudson, who turned 38 in July, is as seasoned a veteran as there is on the free agent market, but that experience doesn't come at the cost of greatly diminished results. Hudson's 3.97 ERA this season was roughly league average (97 ERA+), but it was also largely the product of a slow start and abnormally low strand rate. Hudson pitched to a 5.37 ERA through June 1, but over his final 10 starts in 2013, he compiled a 2.73 ERA and 50-to-19 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 innings. He worked at least seven innings in eight of those contests. Advanced metrics like FIP (3.46), xFIP (3.56) and SIERA (3.75) all feel his ERA should have been lower.
Hudson has never posted a ground-ball rate lower than 55 percent, and you'd have to go back to 2006 to find the last time that he averaged more than three walks per nine innings. Both of those traits help keep his pitch counts low, allowing him to work deep into games. Hudson personifies the "bulldog" mentality, as he's averaged 6 2/3 innings per start over his 15-year career, and that hasn't changed much of late; he's averaged 6.5 innings per start over the past four seasons. Hudson is more than just an innings eater though, as he's only posted an ERA north of 4.00 twice in his 15-year Major League career.
Given his age and his injury, the Braves don't figure to extend a qualifying offer, meaning that Hudson won't require the sacrifice of a draft pick this offseason. Despite the fact that his season ended in July, Hudson is scheduled to be 100 percent by early- to mid-November, so teams will be able to get a look at him early rather than waiting until after the New Year.
Hudson's never been much of a strikeout pitcher, and that's unlikely to change at this stage of his career. His 2013 K/9 rate of 6.5 was the fourth-highest single-season mark of his career and his second-highest since 2002. Teams with questionable infield defense will likely be a bit more wary of Hudson.
While this season's injury was of a fluky nature, it still marks the third time since 2008 that Hudson has undergone surgery. He had Tommy John back in August of 2008 and underwent back surgery to repair a herniated disc in November of 2011 -- an operation that cost him the first month of the 2012 season. Hudson has typically been healthy throughout his career, but teams may try to use the fact that he's spent time on the DL in four of the past six seasons as leverage.
Hudson has begun to see a slight drop in his velocity as well. After averaging 90-91 mph from 1999-2011, he's failed to crack the 90 mph plateau in 2012-13, though he was close this season (89.7 mph). He's still remained effective working in the 89 mph range, but further decline could be problematic. He'll turn 39 next July, so his age will also be a factor in negotiations. He joins Hiroki Kuroda and Bartolo Colon as the oldest free agent starters in this year's class.
Tim and his wife, Kim, make their home in Peachtree City -- about 30 miles from Atlanta's Turner Field. They have two daughters and a son. In 2009, he founded the Hudson Family Foundation, which has raised more than $400K, primarily for children with health issues throughout Alabama and Georgia. Hudson is known as a natural leader in the clubhouse and gained that reputation early in his career. He enjoys displaying his excellent golf skills in the offseason and spending time at his personal ranch in his native state of Alabama.
Given his age, Hudson seems likely to prioritize winning teams with his eyes set on a World Series. Hudson is a veteran of six postseasons between the A's and Braves, but he's never been a part of a team that won a playoff series. All six times he's gone to the postseason, his team has lost in the Division Series. Still, that postseason experience and Hudson's strong track record will appeal to teams, particularly if they have a top-heavy rotation and would like to add some balance to the middle ranks. He and agent Paul Cohen won't have a difficult time drumming up interest around the league.
Given the amount of time he's spent with the Braves, the team's strong core and his Georgia home, Hudson's preference may be to remain in Atlanta. However, the Braves' wealth of young starting pitching could lead GM Frank Wren to make a tough decision and prioritize other areas of need. Hudson would be a nice addition to probable contenders like the Dodgers, A's, Pirates, Rangers and Nationals. He may prefer to try to pitch closer to the southeast portion of the country than head to a West Coast contender, given his strong family ties in the region.
I expect Hudson to prioritize a winning environment over maximizing his salary (he's already earned $98MM+ in his Major League career). He could follow the route that other veterans such as Colon, Kuroda and Andy Pettitte have taken in recent years, signing one-year deals with contenders in search of a deep postseason run. His injury hurts his stock, but given the quick recovery timeline and the fact that it's not an elbow or shoulder ailment, it shouldn't force him to take a dramatic pay cut. Though the right two-year deal could be appealing, I expect that Hudson will sign a one-year, $9MM contract this offseason.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Tim Hudson suffered a gruesome ankle injury that required surgery and cut short what was shaping up to be another strong season. The right-hander hasn't thrown a pitch since July 24, but MLBTR has learned that he expects to be 100 percent in early to mid-November. Hudson will look to sign a Major League deal this offseason.
Prior to his injury, Hudson had posted a 3.97 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a characteristically strong 55.8 percent ground-ball rate in 131 1/3 innings. He'd particularly picked things up from June 1, as he'd posted a 2.73 ERA over his past 10 starts (69 1/3 innings), lasting at least seven frames in eight of those contests. Advanced metrics like FIP (3.46), xFIP (3.56) and SIERA (3.75) all felt that his ERA could've been a bit lower.
The early recovery date will impact the 2014 free agent market. That teams won't need to wait until after the New Year to gauge his health should make him a candidate for any club looking for short-term upgrades to its rotation. If he doesn't stay with the Braves, Hudson could be an attractive alternative to pitchers like Hiroki Kuroda and A.J. Burnett; all are solid veterans in the late stages of their career, but Hudson would likely come at a reduced rate on an incentive-laden deal due to his injury. He's also less likely to receive a qualifying offer than either Kuroda or Burnett.
Hudson didn't rank on Tim Dierkes' final edition of the 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings, but he figures to find a home on MLBTR's annual Top 50 Free Agents list following the postseason.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that there are several top teams that will have surpluses in certain areas this offseason that will be second guessing whatever move they make. In the case of the Dodgers, they have four strong outfielders in Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier, and Carl Crawford. One would imagine that Ethier, who is frequently in trade rumors, would be the one to go, but GM Ned Colletti could also give some thought to dealing Kemp if the right offer comes along. Here's more from today's column..
- After bouncing back from a slow start, catcher Carlos Ruiz is desirable again and the Phillies are more enthused about the idea of re-signing him. That may prove to be difficult once Ruiz gets to the open market as he’d be a cheaper alternative to Brian McCann or Jarrod Saltalamacchia and more consistent than Dioner Navarro.
- According to Mike Napoli's agent Brian Grieper, there still haven't been contract talks with the Red Sox. It appears they will play it out and decide about a qualifying offer. One possibility is that they put Xander Bogaerts at third and Will Middlebrooks at first, taking Napoli out of the equation.
- Tim Hudson, 38, wants to return from the ankle fracture he suffered in July. Hudson, who should cleared for baseball activities by mid-December, will be a free agent but wants to stay in Atlanta. It'll come down to the money for the veteran, who earned $9MM this season.
- Grady Sizemore tried to get back playing this season, but he needs more time for his knees to heal. He'll likely be ready for a major league camp next spring and work out for teams this offseason to show he’s healthy. If he looks OK, he’ll probably get a few teams interested.
- Some still believe that it was a mistake for the Angels to only pay Mike Trout $510K this season and that he won't forget it when it comes time to work out a new deal with the club.
It's time for MLB to push the trade deadline from July 31st to a later date, opines Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. Cameron argues that with an expanded postseason, many teams are still holding out hope around this time of year that they are still in it and therefore they aren't selling. A new deadline would certainly take some getting used to, but the date has shifted over time. As you ponder Cameron's suggestion, here are some links from around the league...
- Braves pitcher Tim Hudson fractured his ankle against the Mets tonight as he was covering first base and the club announced that he will need to undergo season-ending ankle surgery. Before Hudson's injury, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com noted that Atlanta had some interest in acquiring another starter.
- The Brewers have shipped off Francisco Rodriguez, but Danny Knobler of CBS Sports tweets that plenty of teams are still interested in their remaining bullpen arms such as John Axford and Mike Gonzalez. The Dodgers are among the interested parties, according to Knobler.
- Cubs outfielder David DeJesus is returning just in time to be showcased for the deadline, but club president Theo Epstein doesn't think he's going anywhere, writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. However, he won't make any guarantees. "Does that make him untouchable?" Epstein said. "No, no one is untouchable, but we'll sit and weigh out the options as to what's best for the Cubs. Just because you may listen on somebody doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate everything he brings to the organization."
- Peter Gammons of the MLB Network reports that the Angels are receiving calls on lefty Scott Downs, who is a free agent at season's end (Twitter link). A deal is unlikely to happen, however, Gammons adds.
- One league executive told Jayson Stark of ESPN.com (via Twitter) that he has "no doubt" that the Phillies are buyers after talking to them.
To start off the weekend, I recommend you have a read of this interesting look at baseball across the pond. On the MLB side of things, here are a few notes from around the National League East:
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is poised to decide between buying and selling -- or, perhaps, somewhere in-between -- depending upon the club's performance in the ten-game homestand it kicked off last night, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com was among those to report. The team picked up a game on the division-leading Braves last night, but has two more against Atlanta before welcoming the Nationals and then White Sox. While not among the quotes passed along in the article, in the video found at the link, Amaro says that he has "had a lot of discussions in the last three or four days" and has seen "a lot of interest in some pretty good players on our club."
- In his worthwhile look in at available relievers, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal did not include the Mets and closer Bobby Parnell. In a tweet, Rosenthal explained that he has been told that the team is not interested in dealing Parnell unless it is "blown away" by an offer. Parnell, 28, has been excellent for New York and still has two more years of arbitration eligibility before reaching free agency.
- Braves starter Tim Hudson said he was surprised to learn of a report suggesting that he expected to be traded and denied it completely, according to a post from MLB.com's Trade Deadline blog. Of course, Hudson enjoys ten and five rights, meaning he would have the authority to veto any potential trade. As Rosenthal reports on Twitter this morning, Braves GM Frank Wren also says there is "no validity at all" to the notion that Hudson will be dealt.
- The Nationals are definitely interested in adding a starter, according to a report (on Twitter) from ESPN's Buster Olney. As the struggling Dan Haren tries to work out his issues while on the DL, the team has turned to youngster Taylor Jordan. Though Jordan has been successful in two starts, it would be risky indeed to rely on him (and the team's other minor leaguers) to step up if Haren is unable to regain his form down the stretch.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum is upset with his team's recent play and says that players who don't perform won't have big-league jobs, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times reports. That goes for top young players Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo. "I don’t think [anyone’s] invincible if you’re not performing," Sveum says regarding Castro and Rizzo. "It’s not about what we think can happen three or four years from now. It’s time to perform on a consistent basis."
Wittenmyer writes that Sveum's harsh words for Castro and Rizzo "threw a sudden dose of skepticism and doubt into the widespread assumptions about the Cubs’ core," but acknowledges that, in reality, Castro and Rizzo will be with the Cubs for the foreseeable future. Sveum is suggesting they might be demoted, but that seems extremely unlikely, and it's even less likely that either of them would be traded. The Cubs signed Castro to a seven-year, $60MM contract last August. Rizzo is not signed to a long-term deal. Both players have hit well this season despite occasional mistakes in the field. Here are more notes from around the majors.
- John Poloni -- also known as the "fat scout" in Michael Lewis' Moneyball -- lobbied for the Athletics to draft Tim Hudson in 1997, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. Hudson wasn't regarded as a top draft prospect due to his size, but Poloni told the A's that Hudson had "the best sinker he'd ever seen." 16 years later, Hudson is nearing his 200th win in the big leagues. That doesn't mean Poloni is rushing to take credit, however. "He exceeded my expectations, too," Poloni says. "A lot of times, it's pure luck."
- Last offseason's big-ticket free agents haven't performed well so far, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Rick Hummel. One of the highest-profile disappointments thus far has probably been Josh Hamilton of the Angels, although it's still early enough in the season that one big series could make any player's statistics look considerably better.
The Mets are optimistic that they can surprise people in 2013 then spend more liberally starting next offseason. Here’s the latest on their division rivals...
- As Tim Hudson begins the final year on his contract with the Braves, he's hopeful of staying in Atlanta long-term. The right-hander told Mark Bowman of MLB.com that he hopes to play for "a while longer" with the Braves. "I think when the day comes when I'm not a Brave or not playing for anybody, it's going to be a sad day around the Hudson house," he said.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said he’s “open minded” to the notion of pursuing a contract extension with shortstop Ian Desmond before the season begins, Amanda Comak of the Washington Times reports (on Twitter). Desmond said he's open to the possibility of an extension, but not in a rush to complete a deal, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports (on Twitter). The 27-year-old will earn $3.8MM as a first time arbitration eligible player in 2013 following a breakout offensive season.
- Phillies ace Roy Halladay doesn’t sound intrigued by the possibility of hitting free agency this coming offseason, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News reports. The right-hander’s three-year, $60MM contract will expire assuming he doesn’t pitch 259 innings or more in 2013. "I think if I have my druthers I would be here until I'm done," he said. "As good as they've been to me, I think they realize that I would be as good to them as I could be. So going forward, if that that was the case, I really can't see myself playing anywhere else.” Halladay ranked fifth on Tim Dierkes' 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings.
2:03pm: The Braves announced they've exercised the options for McCann, Hudson and Maholm.
10:46am: The Braves are expected to announce today that they've exercised the 2013 contract options for Brian McCann, Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). The Braves have until tomorrow to decide whether the players will return to Atlanta for another year or become free agents.
McCann recently underwent shoulder surgery that was more extensive than expected, so there was some question as to whether GM Frank Wren would exercise the $12MM option. The 28-year-old hit 20 home runs and posted a .230/.300/.399 batting line in 2012, the worst offensive season of his career.
Hudson will earn $9MM in 2013 instead of a $1MM buyout. He posted a 3.62 ERA with 5.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 179 innings with the Braves in 2012. Joining him in the rotation will be Maholm, who posted a 3.67 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 189 innings this past season. The 30-year-old left-hander will earn $6.5MM.
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.