Tim Hudson Rumors
David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution talked to Braves GM Frank Wren yesterday. Hot stove highlights:
- Wren considers the Braves' biggest needs to be the bullpen and the offense.
- O'Brien is certain the Braves won't try to re-sign both Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez. O'Brien explains why it's in the Braves' best interest to stay tight-lipped about possible arbitration offers for any Type A or B free agents (Soriano and Gonzalez both project as Type As).
- O'Brien guesses the Braves will try to work out a multiyear extension with Tim Hudson at less than $10MM per year. Decisions on Hudson's $12MM mutual option within five days of the conclusion of the World Series.
- Wren implied Martin Prado will enter Spring Training as the Braves' starting second baseman. We talked earlier this month about Kelly Johnson as a trade candidate.
- As you learned from Baseball America's Matt Eddy a week ago, righties Jorge Campillo, Buddy Carlyle, and Vladimir Nunez were granted free agency. Wren says the Braves still need to make decisions on whether to attempt to re-sign any of them.
In the midst of a tight Dodgers-Phillies game, here are some news tidbits from around the baseball world....
- Before Game Five, Joe Torre said he wants to (and believes he will) be the Dodgers' manager next season, reports Mike Jensen of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
- Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that Frank Wren is in a bit of a Catch-22 when it comes to re-signing Tim Hudson and Adam LaRoche, and/or trading Kenshin Kawakami or Derek Lowe for hitting help.
- MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports that new Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has spent his first few weeks on the job talking to the team's coaches and players. After talking to pending free agents Marco Scutaro, Rod Barajas and John McDonald, Anthopoulos said he wants to speak to their respective agents in the coming weeks.
- As reported by Kevin Gorman of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Mark Cuban told a group of Pitt students that he won't be buying the Pirates.
- Speaking of Pittsburgh natives looking to be involved in MLB ownership, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan said that Pittsburgh lawyer Check Greenberg's investment team made with members of the Hicks Sports Group on Wednesday to discuss buying the Rangers.
- Tommy Rancel of the DRaysBay blog outlines why he thinks the Rays should look into signing Kelvim Escobar this off-season.
A slew of Thursday night links from around the majors....
- Jon Heyman of SI.com reports (via Twitter) that coveted hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo appears likely to join the Chicago Cubs.
- Byron Kerr of MASN.com doesn't expect Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo to name a new manager until at least November. According to MLB.com's Bill Ladson, the team will consider Chip Hale, Bobby Valentine, Bob Melvin, and perhaps Dave Duncan (if he's available), in addition to interim skipper Jim Riggleman.
- Meanwhile, another managerial search continues in Houston. Adam McCalvy of MLB.com writes that candidate Ned Yost thinks he benefited from a year away from a baseball job.
- Todd Zolecki of MLB.com wonders if Brett Myers is done in Philadelphia. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that even though Myers didn't make the team's NLCS roster, that doesn't necessarily mean the righty won't be back in 2010.
- Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that it doesn't sound like Will Clark will be a candidate for the San Francisco Giants' open hitting coach position.
- David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution follows up on the recent Tim Hudson speculation. O'Brien thinks the Braves and Hudson might be able to agree on a three-year deal worth about $27-30MM.
- Eric Byrnes met with Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes and manager A.J. Hinch to discuss his future in Arizona, according to MLB.com's Steve Gilbert.
WEDNESDAY, 10:38am: O'Brien spoke to Hudson, who termed Rosenthal's portrayal a misunderstanding. Hudson still hopes to work out a multiyear extension with the Braves.
TUESDAY: Braves pitcher Tim Hudson is expected to choose free agency "barring a last-minute, knockout offer from the Braves," according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal says the Braves are likely to exercise their half of Hudson's $12MM mutual option for 2010, but Hudson would rather decline his side and seek a larger guarantee. Hudson is projected to fall just short of Type B status, and if that holds up there would be no point to an arbitration offer.
Back on September 24th, ESPN's Jayson Stark found it "all but certain" that Hudson would return to the Braves next year. Earlier that month Hudson told MLB.com's Mark Bowman he'd be glad if the Braves picked up the option. Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote that Hudson and his wife had "put down roots" in the Atlanta area. What changed in the last few weeks?
I'm not sure Hudson is judging the market correctly. He recovered from August 2008 Tommy John surgery to make seven starts this year, posting a 3.61 ERA. He'd be turning down one year and $12MM for perhaps two years and $16MM guaranteed on the open market (my best guess). On the other hand, Dave Cameron of FanGraphs believes the market will value Hudson more highly than that.
The Atlanta Braves went 34-21 in the months of August and September. Unfortunately for them, their poor play early in the season meant that the playoffs were still out of reach. While their starting pitching was strong (Derek Lowe's underwhelming year not withstanding), their offense couldn't generate enough support. Chipper Jones had, arguably, the worst year of his career, posting an OPS of .818 - his lowest in nearly a decade-and-a-half. Jones' performance was a microcosm of the Braves' season as a whole: certainly not awful, but short of expectations.
Buster Olney, Baseball Prospectus and the Insider Staff broke down the season that was for the Atlanta Braves and what to expect from them this winter. An ESPN Insider account is required to read the article but here are the highlights for those without:
- Olney writes that the Braves need a bopper, preferably of the right-handed variety. The piece suggests Dan Uggla or Miguel Tejada while noting that Matt Holliday and Jason Bay are probably too pricey. Gary Sheffield is mentioned as a cheaper alternative, but one has to wonder if the Braves are at all interested in reuniting with the outspoken soon-to-be 41-year-old.
- Atlanta may need a big bat, but they can afford to stand pat when it comes to their rotation. Javier Vazquez was brilliant this year, posting career bests with an ERA of 2.87 and 9.8 K/9. With a starting five that also includes Jair Jurrjens, Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson, the Braves are one of the fortunate teams that do not have to sift through this year's pool of free agent starters if they don't want to. While the Braves may give some thought to moving Lowe, who is owed $15MM in each of the next three seasons, they may not find much of a market for his services.
- The Braves "face an intriguing decision" when it comes to Hudson's $12MM option. Hudson missed most of the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery but has looked rather healthy since returning, posting an ERA of 3.61 in seven starts. A blog post from David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution noted that the Braves could decline the option and be able to sign Hudson for "quite a bit less", as Hudson has just built a home in the area.
- Shawn Hoffman of Baseball Prospectus concludes the piece by saying, "If the rotation can hold some of its gains, and Chipper Jones can at least maintain his current level, the Braves could be very, very tough."
A fresh roundup of links for Wednesday evening...
- According to MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince, it's highly unlikely the Indians will look within to fill their managing vacancy. Former Tribe pitcher and current Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell has been thrown around as a possible candidate by fans and media types in Cleveland.
- David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution thinks impending free agent Tim Hudson is going to want to re-sign with Atlanta this offseason, even after they reject his $12MM 2010 option. Hudson just built a dream home in nearby Auburn, Alabama and his wife is heavily involved in the community.
- ESPN.com's Jorge Arangure goes in-depth on the Twins' signing of Miguel Angel Sano. Arangure believes agent Rob Plummer did a fantastic job with the deal.
- Gordon Edes of Yahoo! Sports takes a cue from MLBTR's own Mike Axisa with a comparison of soon-to-be free agent outfielders Jason Bay and Matt Holliday.
- As noted by Bill Ladson of MLB.com, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo indicated Wednesday that interim manager Jim Riggleman is a candidate for the permanent gig. "Jim has done a great job. It's going to be an intense offseason and a busy," Rizzo said. "The ultimate goal is to make us a better ball club."
Let's check out the hot stove highlights from Jayson Stark's latest Rumblings and Grumblings column at ESPN.
- The free agent market for super-utility men is strong, with Chone Figgins, Mark DeRosa, and Jerry Hairston Jr. Stark says the Cards will let DeRosa test the market, despite the recent extension chatter. Stark talked to an NL exec who prefers Figgins to DeRosa, which seems logical.
- Stark finds it "all but certain" that the Braves bring Tim Hudson back for 2010, but they won't be shopping Javier Vazquez. He considers the Braves unlikely to re-sign free agent relievers Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez. If that's the case, Frank Wren will need to bring in some kind of late-inning arm.
- Expect a strong market for Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy, despite his disappointing '09 season. Which teams do you see in the mix?
- Stark sees the Marlins keeping only one of Dan Uggla, Cody Ross, and Jorge Cantu, who are all due raises through arbitration.
- Stark says the Astros don't have a shopping list yet for their next manager, but count on GM Ed Wade to be meticulous. The 'Stros prefer someone with experience, leading Stark to join in on the Jim Fregosi speculation.
2:15pm: MLB.com's Mark Bowman talked to Braves GM Frank Wren, who said he'd like to have Hudson pitching in Atlanta for a long time. Hudson's thoughts:
"I would be glad if they picked up the option. But it's one of those things if they want to discuss not picking it up and maybe going a few years out at some kind of whatever hometown discount, that's something I'd obviously be willing to discuss with them."
9:49am: According to ESPN's Buster Olney:
The Braves are interested in discussing a contract extension with Tim Hudson, and if they can make that work, they presumably will somehow fold the $12MM 2010 option into that deal. This, of course, would free up a starting pitcher for Atlanta to trade.
As MLBTR readers learned in January, Hudson has the right to void the option if the Braves exercise it. Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote at the time that the Braves "fully intend to exercise it, barring some unexpected turn of events." Hudson had Tommy John surgery in August of '08, and he's been solid in two of his three starts this year. However, he wouldn't get $12MM guaranteed for one year on the open market, and nine months later O'Brien's assertion seems less certain. Hudson, as you might expect, would like the option picked up.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports addressed the Hudson situation on Wednesday. Rosenthal also believed that he might prefer to just re-sign with the Braves. He wondered if the Braves would then shop Javier Vazquez for a hitter. Olney believes Atlanta would be more likely to trade another starter, Kenshin Kawakami for example.
I'm thinking something like two years, $15MM (plus incentives) would make sense for a Hudson extension. I don't agree that the Braves should shop a starter if they re-sign him. We have seen countless examples where a team had a starting pitching surplus on paper heading into the season, only to see it turn into a need within months.
Let's see what Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com has for us in his latest Full Count video...
- The free agent market for starting pitching doesn't look very enticing, but the trade market could be intriguing. Toronto will almost certainly field offers for Roy Halladay again, the Cubs could trade Carlos Zambrano, and the Braves could deal Javier Vazquez if they decide to keep Tim Hudson.
- The Astros might finally be ready to move ace Roy Oswalt. While he does have a full no-trade clause, Oswalt has told the club in the past that he'd be willing to consider moves to St. Louis, both Chicago teams, Texas, and Atlanta.
- Tampa Bay moved Scott Kazmir when his value was high, so perhaps it's unlikely they'd move B.J. Upton when his value is low. Regardless, many teams covet the elder Upton brother because at his best he's a righty slugger with superior defense in center field. In his place, the Rays could go in-house with Fernando Perez or Desmond Jennings.
- Keep in mind that if Tampa were to trade an outfielder, they might prefer to deal Carl Crawford. Upton is three years away from free agency; Crawford just one.
- The Padres' recent surge has GM Kevin Towers thinking the team could be a surprise contender next year. The question is this: how low will the team's payroll go? The subtraction of Brian Giles would leave the payroll in the mid-$30MM range, but there are some that believe the team will move either Adrian Gonzalez or Heath Bell and get down into the mid-$20MM range. Ownership has yet to give the front office a firm payroll number for 2010.
- The Cardinals want to re-sign Mark DeRosa, but his offseason wrist surgery changes the equation. DeRosa is fully expected to be ready by the start of Spring Training, but he'll come with some risk. If he was fully healthy, he would be nearly as coveted as Chone Figgins, but supply and demand will work in DeRosa's favor because there are very few quality third baseman available. Plus, he can also play a ton of other positions.
Some more links to check out as you wait for America's other pastime to kick off it's season...
- Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that the Braves may be forced to trade Javier Vazquez this offseason because it might not make sense financially to keep him and Tim Hudson around next year.
- T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that the Rangers will not sit starter Kevin Millwood just to keep his 2010 option from vesting. Texas GM Jon Daniels said "We don't let clauses in contracts determine who is in the starting lineup or in the rotation." Millwood needs to throw just eight more innings this season to lock in his $12MM option for next year.
- MLB.com's Ian Browne answered a bunch of Red Sox related questions in his mailbag today. He thinks Tim Wakefield will return next year, and said that he'd "be surprised" if the club exercised Jason Varitek's $5MM option now that Victor Martinez is on board. Varitek holds a $3MM option of his own, however.
- Remember Ezequiel Astacio? The Cubs signed him out of San Angelo if the independent United League according to Baseball America's minor league transactions.