3:30pm: It seems the Nats are potentially willing to offer more than one season, Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post reports via Twitter. But with Hudson already sitting on multi-year interest from other clubs, it’s not clear how far the D.C. organization will chase the market.
12:18pm: The Nationals are still hoping to bring right-hander Daniel Hudson back for the 2020 season, but the two sides remain apart on the length of the contract, reports Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post (Twitter links). Hudson’s reps at Jet Sports are seeking a multi-year deal after the 32-year-old flamethrower stabilized the Nats’ bullpen and eventually closed out the World Series, but the team has been more focused on a one-year arrangement.
Hudson, who’ll turn 33 in March, was a somewhat quiet deadline pickup for the Nationals but was thrust into the closer’s spotlightwhen Sean Doolittle went down with an injury. Hudson thrived as he was placed into higher-leverage situations, ultimately pitching to a 1.44 ERA with a 23-to-4 K/BB ratio (two intentional walks) in 25 regular-season frames to finish out the year. He tacked on another 9 2/3 innings in the postseason, yielding four runs with a 10-to-4 K/BB ratio (with almost all of the damage against him coming in one three-run outing). Along the way, he averaged 96.4 mph on his fastball.
A multi-year deal for Hudson doesn’t seem like an unreasonable ask — particularly given the market for free-agent relievers to this point. Six relievers — Drew Pomeranz, Will Smith, Chris Martin, Joe Smith, Jake Diekman and Joely Rodriguez — have already inked multi-year contracts this winter, and Hudson is among the most obvious multi-year candidates that has yet to sign. MLBTR predicted a two-year, $12MM pact for Hudson to return to the Nationals at the outset of free agency.
Dougherty suggests that the Nationals’ general preference is to keep relievers over 30 to one-year contracts, though the Nats haven’t exactly demonstrated a strict adherence to that apparent preference in recent years. Washington acquired Doolittle and Ryan Madson in July 2017 when both were over 30 and had an additional year remaining on their contract, for instance, and in the past four years they’ve handed out multi-year free-agent deals to right-handers Brandon Kintzler (two years, $10MM) and Shawn Kelley (three years, $15MM). Hudson’s injury history, of course, has to be taken into consideration when weighing a multi-year deal. The right-hander already has a pair of Tommy John surgeries on his record (although that was also true of Kelley when he signed).