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Atlanta Braves: Lackey or Lohse as a Hudson Replacement?

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COMMENTARY | The Atlanta Braves find themselves a little more desperate for starting pitching as news broke late Monday that starting pitcher Tim Hudson has signed a two-year deal with the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants offered Hudson a two-year contract worth $23 million, which is comfortably outside of what the Braves were able (or willing) to offer to bring him back. Hudson is 38 years old and coming off of a gruesome ankle injury that required major surgery. He has been a stalwart in the Braves' rotation since 2005.

The disappointing departure will frenzy up more trade rumors among the Atlanta faithful, though most rumors will be extremely unlikely. To acquire the likes of ace David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays or the allegedly available reigning Cy Young winner Max Scherzer from the Detroit Tigers, the Braves would have to gut their farm system, setting back their organization several years.

A couple of more reasonable targets that I've heard mentioned recently include John Lackey of the Boston Red Sox and Kyle Lohse of the Milwaukee Brewers.

David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution recently speculated that the Braves could pursue Lackey if a deal with Hudson didn't work out. Lackey had a great bounce-back year for the Red Sox after several disastrous seasons in Boston, playing out a huge free-agent contract that has been hampered in part by injuries. He has one year and $15.25 million remaining on the deal, so potentially would not command as much of a return.

O'Brien also has mentioned Lohse as an option. He has two years and $22 million remaining on his contract, so he offers a bit more security than Lackey. Further, the Braves have previously expressed an interest in Lohse, putting in a waiver claim this last August after Hudson was injured. No trade worked out between Atlanta and Milwaukee at the time, but knowing that the Braves have already expressed interest could give the two sides a head start should they work on a deal this winter.

The official position of the Braves' front office right now is to have Alex Wood and David Hale compete for rotation spots during spring training. While both players have shown some starting potential, I think fans of the Braves would feel a little bit better if Hudson was replaced by somebody a little bit more established.

Keep an ear open for developments around Kyle Lohse or John Lackey.

Patrick Richardson is a longtime follower of the Atlanta Braves who started playing t-ball right as Atlanta's record-setting run of division titles began. He is an amateur but enthusiastic sabermetrician.

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