Braves making the right call in keeping Hudson (updated)

Tim Hudson allowed only a run on seven hits in his final 2009 start against Washington. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Tim Hudson allowed only a run on seven hits in his final 2009 start against Washington. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

(THIS IS UPDATED FROM AN EARLIER BLOG WITH HUDSON NOW CLOSE TO SIGNING)

The Braves’ offseason is about to start the best way possible: with pitcher Tim Hudson signed to a new contract.

Our David O’Brien is reporting that Hudson is close to signing a three-year contract extension worth approximately $9 million per season. Assuming that deal is finalized, consider this a good omen for the winter. A year ago, general manager Frank Wren whiffed in several of his early free agents pursuits, and negotiations played out in a public forum. This deal, he’s closing early.

Yes, the  Braves need a bat. That’s no secret. But the offseason roster makeover had to start with Hudson. He made a successful comeback from elbow surgery and gives the Braves one of baseball’s strongest starting rotations, with probably Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens and two of the following: Javier Vazquez, Kenshin Kawakami and/or Derek Lowe. (Vazquez is entering the final year of his contract, making him a valuable trade asset, but he was the team’s best starter from start to finish last season and Wren would prefer to avoid dealing him.)

I swapped emails with Wren late Tuesday night. After reading David’s story over the weekend about negotiations beginning this week with Hudson’s agent, I was hoping to get a general feel for talks. Now, I certainly never expected Wren to respond, “Funny you should ask. We just offered $X.X million per year and they countered at $X.X million. I’ve sent you both proposals in an attachment.”

So when Wren gave me no numbers, I wasn’t disappointed.

But if there was any lingering doubt that the Braves wanted Hudson in their starting rotation next season, Wren obliterated it with this email: “As you know, we don’t comment on negotiations, but I will say that Tim progressed as we thought he would coming off the surgery and we expect him to be even better next year with additional time off from this season to get stronger.”

Let me translate: signing Hudson was priority one.

Re-signing him is the right decision. As much as keeping him means a significant financial commitment, it gives the Braves the best possible starting rotation.

The obvious cynical comeback to that is: “Oh not, not another old pitcher coming off surgery.” But Hudson is less of a risk than either Tom Glavine or John Smoltz were. He’s not nearly as old (34) and the Braves already have had a chance to see him pitch post surgery (seven starts, 2-1, 3.61., 30 strikeouts and 13 walks in 42.1 innings).

If Wren gets Hudson signed, the focus the rest of the offseason switches to trading an arm for a bat (or two).

But Hudson had to be the first domino to fall — and it’s about to.

63 comments Add your comment

Mr_Ed

October 28th, 2009
4:20 pm

Reid Adair

October 28th, 2009
4:22 pm

Well, well … Frank Wren is talking a good game. Only time will tell if he backs it up this time, or if it’s just talk – again.

Ripped Again

October 28th, 2009
4:24 pm

We need a big bat Frank don’t forget that !

Toots

October 28th, 2009
4:32 pm

I’m not trying to suck up to you Jeff but I agree with every word you’ve written. Now and forever.

DW

October 28th, 2009
4:39 pm

I think it’s a good move, but I also don’t see any team trading for either Lowe or Kawakami. The Braves will probably be forced to trade Vasquez for a big bat, the other guys won’t cut it and won’t be traded– unless they just want to unload either of them in a salary dump for very little in return.

But I actually don’t think it would be a bad idea to trade Vasquez if you get a good, preferably younger player, in return, as opposed to a one-year rental that will be playing for the Yankees next year, a la Texeira. The reason is this: Vasquez had one of the two best years of a long career. What are the odds that will happen again? I just don’t know. Sell high, buy low is what I say.

I also can’t stand the Yankees and hope they of the $200 M + payroll get destroyed by the Phillies. Just thought I’d throw that in there.

And to Mr_Ed and the other guys who apparently constantly check the blogs so that they can say “first”: what the hell? Don’t you have better things to do? I don’t get it.

MitchC

October 28th, 2009
4:41 pm

Jeff, at first, I wasnt sure about keeping Hudson, but, as I think about it more, it would be the right move. Before his surgery, Tim was one of the best starting pitchers in all of baseball. He seems to have rebounded well from the TJ procedure, and will take less $$$ to stay here, so why not?

I would love to see Lowe traded, to get his contract off the books, but I dont think any team is going to take his 15 mil a year deal, considering his age, and his high ERA last season. One of two things will likely happen. Either Frank will trade KK for a bat, or, he will trade Lowe, and the Braves will have to pick up part of the contract.

I think Hudson can help us for three or four years more, so hopefully, a good deal will get done, and we will have him for a while.

Delbert D.

October 28th, 2009
4:41 pm

Yes. Right on target. I hope somebody Wren also addresses the inadequacies at the plate. Particularly by trading an older player who might still have some market value in distressed cities for somebody with enthusiasm.

Tucker T

October 28th, 2009
4:43 pm

Right on the money Jeff. Comparing Hudson to either the Smoltz or Glavine situations is dumb. Hudson proved he can still pitch at the end of last season.

phil

October 28th, 2009
4:44 pm

Starters
Vasquez
Jurrjens
Hanson
Hudson
Lowe

Pen
Kawakami
Medlin
Gonzalez
Fill out the rest

Toots

October 28th, 2009
4:46 pm

Jeff, here’s something for you and the rest of your followers to consider: who wins in a cat fight, Jeter’s Minka Kelly or A-Rod’s Kate Hudson?
Talk amongst yourselves…

Tucker T

October 28th, 2009
4:48 pm

If the Braves can find some stupid…uh, I mean proactive GM to take Lowe off of their hands for a solid hitter then they will be in business. Lowe is dead weight. He needs to go.

"Instant Coffee" Jones

October 28th, 2009
4:54 pm

trade Derek Lowe for some prospects and sign Vlad Guerrero for a couple years.

Chief Nock A Homa

October 28th, 2009
5:05 pm

Since it will be difficult to trade Lowe with the salary and off year, thoughts on packaging Lowe with Vasquez for a blockbuster bat and maybe a second tier arm???

Braves73

October 28th, 2009
5:06 pm

Jeff, you are 100% correct on this one. It would be HUGE for the Braves to re-sign Hudson. That would give the Braves the leverage they need to acquire a big bat in trade. No matter what happens, Huddy would be affordable (by today’s standards) and it would go a long way in solidfying their rotation. If you can package and trade either Lowe or Kawakami, then you would field the best starting five, while hopefully adding a bat to boost their anemic offense. My only other hope is Wren forcing Bobby to drop losers like Norton & Johnson and fielding the BEST players (and not keeping someone just because he’s “Bobby’s Boy”).

Asheville Dawg

October 28th, 2009
5:52 pm

Asheville Dawg

October 28th, 2009
6:03 pm

Your right Jeff, Hudson needs to stay a Brave. If any one is dumb enough to take Lowe (Yankees are you listening), they can have him. Way over paid for him, at least he pitched more than Mike ( I am hurt again) Hampton. KK seemed better once he’d pitched some in the early season. What big bat might the Braves get? Adam LaRoche won’t be enough.

Jeff Schultz

October 28th, 2009
6:17 pm

Reid — I think he’s serious. What that means, I dunno.

Jeff Schultz

October 28th, 2009
6:18 pm

Toots — Are you trying to suck up to me?

Jeff Schultz

October 28th, 2009
6:19 pm

DW — I’d have to think trading Vazquez is the last option, but it might come to that. He would garner most in return in a trade.

Jeff Schultz

October 28th, 2009
6:22 pm

bob horner stayed hurt

October 28th, 2009
6:23 pm

the braves are gonna have to trade JJ for a big bat……it’s a gamble but that is my opinion….

Jeff Schultz

October 28th, 2009
6:23 pm

Toots– not sure who wins that cat fight, but I’d be there to console the winner.

Jeff Schultz

October 28th, 2009
6:25 pm

Thanks Braves73

bob horner stayed hurt

October 28th, 2009
6:26 pm

I’m confused….I have 3 cats and I break up all fights..??? I love my cats..??

TS

October 28th, 2009
6:42 pm

Derek Lowe’s contract has got to be up there with the most illiquid assets in baseball right now.

It was pretty stunning to give him $60mm when the only other known offer was $39mm (Mets, 3-years). Sure, they had to pay a premium after a 90-loss season, but I think they paid about $10mm more than they needed to.

Sonny Clusters

October 28th, 2009
7:03 pm

Last year when we was going to Braves Games we was saying that the Braves will probably drop Hudson like they did Glavine and wHen they didn’t, we was surprised. Hudson will come bakc to the Braves but don’t be surprised if the keep Kawakami. We need to get Stinky Wintes in there to teach Kawakami to pitch like a real Major Leaguer even though Stinky was never a real good pitcher.

Big B CH 99

October 28th, 2009
7:14 pm

There’s one thing that keeping Huddy would do:
A good veteran presence to go w/ the young guys like J.J. & Hanson. I always thought it was great to see Hanson picking Huddy’s brain in the dugout. That would give U at least 2 veterans (Javy & Huddy) in the rotation.

Its Time For Another Run

October 28th, 2009
7:17 pm

I agree, our rotation should be Hudson, Jurrjens, Hanson and Vazquez. Best 1-4 of any team right now. Or could be anyway.

The starting pitchers that will be on the market wont be that good. Yes there are a couple but there are many teams that want this couple. We actually have two pitchers in KK and Lowe who could help out another team and if we trade both of them then we should come out of the good end of the stick. I would not be against letting Medlen become the 5th starter with the above mentioned group.

Guess we will all just have to sit back and see what Wren can come up with.

Sonny Clusters

October 28th, 2009
7:30 pm

Jeff, they is an impostor posting here as Sonny Clusters. He doesn’t write as good as the real Sonny and we was Honor Roll in school. The real Sonny will now take departure from your blog. Sorry it didn’t work out we was looking forward to Dunwoody. Your pal, Sonny Clusters

Coach (2010- Mr. Overrated retires)

October 28th, 2009
7:33 pm

Let me get this straight, everybody except myself thinks Frank Wren did a great job of slapping this pitching staff together. And yet everybody want’s to unload Derek Lowe because they think he’s overpaid and not worth the trouble?

Go figure. After all, trouble loves company :)

Ted Striker

October 28th, 2009
7:58 pm

In reference to Sonny Clusters at 7:30 pm.

I’ve always said when Sonny Clusters gets an imposter on this blog, it’s the 7th sign of the apocalypse. Therefore, I’m going up on my roof and singing Kum-Bah-Yah till a the fellow on a white horse arrives in the sky.

Hopefully he’ll overlook my bottle of bourbon. And I won’t roll off the roof till he gets here.

The Grinch

October 28th, 2009
9:16 pm

This may be the first and probably only time I agree with Coach, but I don’t see how someone who led the staff in wins and pitched over 200 innings is a “dead weight.” He was the WS MVP in 2007 and has never been injured. He had an off year but I hardly think he’s washed up. Hudson had an almost identical ERA in 2006 and came back to a 3.33 the following season.

I also don’t understand all you who think Hudson’s going to magically become our “ace” next season. We had three starters with an ERA under 2.9; Hudson’s average ERA as a Brave is 3.77 (3.17 being his best year) and he isn’t getting younger or healthier. That certainly isn’t bad, not at all, but which of those three would you put him in front of, other than to break up the different styles in the rotation?

M tank

October 28th, 2009
9:32 pm

GoodTraction

October 28th, 2009
9:59 pm

Sonny – We love you . . . Don’t leave !!!!!

Brownie

October 28th, 2009
10:22 pm

Best opinion on this blog came early by DW. Everyone says Lowe is dead weight, but with a couple of exceptions, he was pretty solid all year. KK is a much better pitcher than most give him credit for, and I think he does have trade value, most likely to a west coast team.

Hanson, JJ and Huddy are staying, which leaves Javy V. I agree with DW that his trade value is at an all time high right now, and Wren should get a strong bat in return.

Also, you’ve got to bring Rochy back – great glove, great in the clubhouse, and got some much needed power.

A move FW will have to work on is bringing in our future 3rd baseman – Chipper appears to be toast…might get one more decent year out of him.

Reid Adair

October 28th, 2009
11:15 pm

Jeff, oh, I never meant to imply he wasn’t serious. But he’s shown over time that telling us they want to do something and actually doing it are not necessarily even close to the same thing.

Coach (2010-Mr.Overrated retires)

October 29th, 2009
2:26 am

Derek Lowe has averaged 33 starts, 206 innings, 15 wins and 10 losses during the previous eight seasons as a starting pitcher including 2009. Dude is a winner, period. Yes, he is overpaid but that is the fault of Frank Wren. Blame the GM, even the agent, not the player.

Trading a winner much less reversing course after just one season is not just questionable judgment, it’s grounds for a mental health check for the entire front office.

That said, we have six starting pitchers. Somebody is gone. I would have said Vazquez before Cox was brought back for 2010, but Cox will have none of it, Javy is Bobby’s long lost love child.

And for the next fruit cake who brings up Jair Jurrjens, read David O’ Brien’s latest blurb and then check yourself into the nearest psych ward.

Tim Hudson is basically taking roughly half of what he could get on the free agent market. Huddy, You da man! Loyalty is a rare commodity.

Tommy boy is the golden child in tights, enough said. Check it out:

http://braveslove.blogspot.com/2009_09_01_archive.html

Leaving Kawakami as the logical choice to get the boot. I know, ticking off the entire Japanese baseball market is a bad idea but Frank Wren has painted himself into a corner on this one. As has been much cussed and discussed in many blogs. I’m all for trading for Nelson Cruz and Luis Durango. Adding Mike Cameron as an affordable veteran free agent can only help, and I’m talking 3-5 million for one season. Add these three in with McLouth, Diaz, Schafer and Heyward and we have the makings of a very solid outfield, without breaking the bank while adding some much needed defense, power, speed, athleticism and veteran leadership.

Not to mention freeing up enough cash to sign LaRoche, Soriano and Gonzalez while still having some extra funds to go rummaging around in the free agent bargain bin.

thunderbull56

October 29th, 2009
2:29 am

Playoffs?Playoffs? Clean house! Trade Lowe to Brewers for a pittance.’ell eat some contract crow.Sign and trade ‘Huddy.Hanson,Jurgy,Meddy,Javy.Or open an old folks home for potential greats. Trade Chippa to a Contenda.Retire Bobby over tha Winta.Get real or go home. There is a porch for old puppies to lay upon.Home,Home on tha.I’m just saying.

Sonny Clusters

October 29th, 2009
8:07 am

Sonny Clusters at 7:30 is an imposter Sonny Clusters. They do not know how we was growing up but instead making up things.

raleighbravefan

October 29th, 2009
9:17 am

Wren’s main job last year was to rebuild the pitching staff, a job that he did so well, he is now being cursed and second guessed because he now has too many starters, and there is great debate how he should proceed.
In hindsight, it seems he overspent for Lowe, but Lowe is a winner. Our greeat young staff makes him look bad. How many of you did not want him signed last year, especially when other alternatives were disappearing? Do you wish Wren had given SD what they wanted for Pevey?
Hindsight is 20-20.

bvillebaron

October 29th, 2009
9:47 am

Signing Hudson is a great move that by all accounts should be a no brainer! This gives Wren tremendous flexibility to obtain offensive help by putting Lowe, Kawakami and even Vazquez on the market to see for whom he will get the best return. Despite how well he pithced last year, Vazquez probably has the most trade value considering the following:

(1) Last year may have been the best of his career;
(2) He only has 1 more year on his contract and thus could be a free agent after 2010; and
(3) His history does not suggest that he will have the same year this year as he did in 2009.

Tuco Pacifico Ramirez

October 29th, 2009
10:09 am

Offer Lowe and Kawakami along with a couple of minor league prospects to the Dodgers for Andre Ethier and see if they bite. They were willing to throw a lot of money away on a previous Braves reject.

Sam

October 29th, 2009
12:35 pm

It pains me to say this as a lifelong Braves fan, but so long as the core of the Phillies stay intact (Utley, Rollins, Howard, Lee, Hamels), we may get better next year, but we don’t stand a chance in this division. They look like a dynasty in the making….

Sam

October 29th, 2009
12:37 pm

Tuco, you’re outta your mind, Ethier is their version of our Jason Heyward….would we pull that trade…NOT!

Sonny Clusters

October 29th, 2009
3:56 pm

The real Sonny Clusters is getting mad that they is an imposter Sonny Clusters saying we was going to stop posting on here, Jeff.

fieldofdreams

October 29th, 2009
6:46 pm

If Wren’s ready to rock, there must be a really good reason for it. Although I hate to lose Vasquez, the Braves better bounce back quickly from the awful outfield output outage.

GoodTraction

October 29th, 2009
8:59 pm

Sonny – I have been plagarizin’ your style of writin’, but I always was using my real name and I hope that you will keep bloggin’ ’cause I think that you and Jeff should have your own show on ESPN but at the same time a little concerned that you or him will get distracted by ugly interns and be on the news and stuff, so just keep bloggin’ – you’re the best.

tbhawksfan

October 30th, 2009
4:43 am

Everyone seems to be under-selling the value of a reliable ML starter. By the end of the FA period and as spring training advances, many teams will be struggling to feild three or four ML starters. Kawa will be a very interteresting commodity to about a third of the league.

On the Braves staff, Kawa is #5 or 6. On another team he could be seen as a solid #3 or 4. Selling high only applies when the commodity is abstract, when the commodity is is needed to get out ML batters, you don’t sell.

LaRoche is a good value at 1B. He loves the Braves, will sign for less, provides power, avg and defense. All we need is to upgrade the OF and find a solution with Chipper.

Our rotation should once again be one of the best, if not the best. The infield is set (except for the 3B situation) if we sign LaRoche and let Prado play. OF is the easiest way to improve the offense of the team.

braves make wrong call in keepin bobby cox n TP n Norton

October 30th, 2009
9:05 am

Ha we see i bet he pulla chipper n be out all next year after May game…be a second hampton which i told O.Brien would be a dud. sorry folks it get u season tickets in 2012 now.why show up see Bobby cox pick nose n say that aboy chipper hit ball are Norton u can ground out for me….Oh and Bobby cox will be sad as phillies will be showin there second ring to Us…hey cox see Manuel win 2 titles if u been there they would n No WS Titles if u there! Oh n i say also that Phillies will win a 3rd WS title also toin 2010

Don

October 30th, 2009
10:02 am

To have any chance to win under Bobby Cox, the Braves must have pitching that is so far far superior to the other teams that it overcomes Cox’s management procedures and lack thereof and enables them to win the Division over the long 162 game season in spite of him. This is the way that it has basically always been with Cox.