Earlier today, the San Francisco Giants made one of the first big splashes of free agency, signing veteran pitcher Tim Hudson to a two year, $23 million deal. Hudson, who missed over two months of the 2013 season dealing with a fractured ankle, has aged well for a 38 year old, 15 year big league veteran, and should be able to return to the 2-3 win pitcher that he has been for the past decade and a half.
Hudson's signing shook the baseball blogosphere as he became the first true impact talent to sign elsewhere this offseason, and so far, reactions have generally been favorable towards both camps. Here are a few notes on the signing from around the internet.
Over at MLB Trade Rumors, Steve Adams notes the substantial market that Hudson had bidding for his services:
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.
As Adams writes, Hudson's price tag likely narrowed his market, especially considering his recent injury troubles. Teams that lost out on Hudson (such as the Boston Red Sox), will now have to turn their attention towards other free agent starters such as Scott Kazmir and Matt Garza.
ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted out that the Oakland Athletics were the runner-up in the Hudson sweepstakes shortly after the signing was announced:
Oakland finished second in the bidding for Tim Hudson.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 18, 2013
Hudson spent the first 6 years of his career as a member of the Athletics' rotation, where he emerged as a top of the rotation type starter, receiving two All-Star nods and accruing a WAR of 31.0 in his tenure with Oakland. With 2013 staff leader Bartolo Colon a free agent, the Athletics could certainly use a veteran starter to compliment their core of young starters, and as CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman noted last week, the A's could be willing to deal pitcher Brett Anderson this winter to make room for a free agent acquisition.
MLB Daily Dish's own Chris Cotillo addressed the state of San Francisco's rotation earlier today:
The signing is the team's second rotation move in the last two months, joining the team's re-signing of Tim Lincecum to a two-year, $35 million contract in October. With both Hudson and Lincecum in the fold, the team will head into 2014 with a starting four of Matt Cain, Lincecum, Hudson and Madison Bumgarner, with a fifth starter to be decided later.
The Giants now have a clear front four in their rotation with Cain, Lincecum, Bumgarner, and now Hudson, and their rotation appears to be shaping up nicely for 2014. The Giants have been rumored to be in on former Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo, although it is unclear if they are still interested in him with the addition of Hudson.
As Chris writes, Hudson's new deal falls short of the two year contract that Tim Lincecum signed with the club last month. Though Lincecum was likely paid somewhat of a premium for the magnificent campaigns he had at the end of last decade, his performance the past two years has paled in comparison to that of Hudson's, whose WAR for the last two seasons is nearly 5 wins better than Lincecum's.
Over at McCovey Chronicles, Grant Brisbee assesses the Giants' 2014 payroll outlook:
With Tim Hudson reportedly coming to the Giants for two years and $23 million, the Giants have now committed nearly $140 million to their 2014 payroll. This is good news if you're employed by the Giants to play baseball. This is bad news if you're expecting the Giants to sign Jacoby Ellsbury or something.
According the Brisbee, the Giants payroll is expected to be in the $140 million range, and that's not even including the other free agent signings the club will likely make this offseason considering their holes in the outfield, bullpen, rotation, and on the bench.
Brisbee goes on to say that he believes the Giants will look to fill their final rotation spot with one of the multiple high risk/high reward type pitchers available on the market this year, such as Dan Haren or Josh Johnson. With Hudson's acquisition, the Giants are unlikely to make another large free agent splurge this offseason, meaning the team will probably be looking to fill their vacant outfield spot with a cheap, yet reliable bat like Corey Hart, Nate McLouth, or Matt Diaz.
Hudson has spent the past 9 years of his career with the Atlanta Braves, and Franklin J. Rabon over at Talking Chop likes the deal for Hudson, noting that the large contract he received is probably a result of the recent influx of TV revenue:
It's a very good deal for Tim, and perhaps an indication of free agency prices to come this winter, as it's expected the influx of National and local TV deal money could lead to an explosion in free agency prices. The Braves, who are fairly well stocked with young, cost controlled pitching couldn't really afford to keep Hudson, as their only real hope was that he'd take substantially less money on just a one year deal.
Hudson's deal could very well be the start of what may be a record offseason in terms of spending. Teams such as the Dodgers, Yankees, Rangers, and Red Sox flush are flush with cash, and this winter's mediocre free agent crop should be the beneficiaries of the new baseball economy.
As Rabon says, the Braves have a stockpile of young arms which negated the need to bring Hudson back. Pitchers such as Mike Minor, Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran, and Alex Wood represent a bright future for the Braves.
At Fangraphs, Dave Cameron writes that the Giants made the right call in signing Hudson over other free agent starters:
The Giants chose to bet on a quality pitcher recovering from a fluke injury and continuing his 15 year run as one of the game’s most effective and consistent starters. I’d take that over a bet on Bronson Arroyo’s magical hit prevention or Dan Haren’s xFIP being more predictive than his recent results.
Cameron argues that Hudson is a fairly safe bet to remain a productive pitcher despite his age, citing his "strike-throwing, ground ball" skillset as one that typically ages well. And when considering that (assuming one WAR is equivalent to $5 million) Hudson's contract expects him to be roughly a 4 WAR pitcher over the life of the deal, the signing seems like even more of a bargain.
Finally, McCovey Chronicles sums it up best by pointing out the alternatives:
The Giants have a solid starting pitcher, and they're one step closer to not getting Ricky Nolasco for four years. That's a good thing.
More from MLB Daily Dish:
- MLB Trade Rumors: Matt Wieters wants Joe Mauer money
- MLB Free Agency: Bryce Harper and Ruben Tejeda could challenge Super-Two status rules
- Phillies re-sign Carlos Ruiz to three-year, $26 million contract
- Yankees to sign Brendan Ryan, Derek Jeter replacement
- Diamondbacks sign Ryan Rowland-Smith to minor league deal