Here’s a a bit of a surprise: Citing “major-league sources,” Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com reports Tim Hudson will decline his option to re-up with the Braves and will become a free agent instead. From Rosenthal’s story:
“The Braves are likely to exercise their option on Hudson, a decision that must be made within five days of the completion of the World Series. Hudson then would be required to decide within 10 days of the completion of the Series whether he wanted to return to the team on a one-year deal. He almost certainly would command a longer deal and a greater total guarantee on the open market.”
Update: Dave O’Brien spoke to Hudson this morning, and Hudson denied the report, saying he’d even accept a hometown discount to remain a Brave.
Until Rosenthal’s report, we’d all pretty much assumed Hudson, who returned only in September after Tommy John surgery, would be content to take the the one-year extension at $12 million or perhaps settle for even less. (According to O’Brien, the Hudsons have just built their dream house in Auburn, Ala.) Hudson was 2-1 with a 3.61 ERA in seven starts upon his return.
But it would seem difficult for the Braves, who already have five other starting pitchers under contract for next season (not to mention Kris Medlen), to commit to Hudson long-term. Hudson is 34, and the Braves just sunk big money into Derek Lowe, who’s 36, and Kenshin Kawakami, who’s 34. And the focus of this offseason figures to be on a big bat for the outfield, not starting pitching.
If Rosenthal’s report is accurate, that changes things. The Braves could be inclined to let Hudson leave and say, “We’ve got our five guys anyway.” And Rosenthal does say “a last-minute knockout offer from the Braves” could change Hudson’s mind. But it’s hard to see a knockout long-term offer on the table, at least for a 34-year-old who has won more than 14 games only once in a season since becoming a Brave in 2005.
As Hudson told O’Brien: “I’ve said all along that Atlanta was the place I want to be and that I’m willing to give them a hometown discount. I just hope when we start talking, my idea of a hometown discount and their idea of a hometown discount isn’t 5 or 8 million [dollars] apart. That’s the only thing that could put a wrench in the whole thing.”