Atlanta's veteran right-hander has spent the last nine seasons with the Braves where he accumulated a record of 113-72 with a 3.56 ERA. Hudson, 38, will be a free agent this offseason after a fractured ankle ended his 2013 season.
Although Hudson has been a valuable piece to the Braves for the better part of a decade, roughly the same $9 million salary could allow Atlanta to trade for the 28-year-old left-handed ace David Price, who the Tampa Bay Rays are rumored to be shopping this offseason.
The pitching performances of Atlanta's wet-behind-the-ears staff in the 2013 postseason proved this team needs an ace it can depend on in October. Hudson and Price both fit that bill, but Price is the better long-term option.
It isn't very often a situation arises whereby a team can scoop up a former Cy Young Award winner and not have to break the bank to do it. Former winners Cliff Lee, Tim Lincecum, Roy Halladay and Justin Verlander are all making at least $20 million per season. Price only brought home $10 million in 2013.
The most attractive part of Price's deal is that he will not become a free agent again until after the 2015 season. If the Braves traded for him, they would get two more years of salary arbitration before Price would be in line to earn B.J. Upton money.
Trading Does Mean Losing Valuable Prospects
"If you go with what's been done in the past, I guess you're going to have to think you're going to get traded," Price said.
Those past trades Price cited were when the Rays shipped Matt Garza and James Shields out of town before their big paydays came due.
When the Rays dealt Garza to the Chicago Cubs in 2011, they received a king's ransom in prospects. The Cubbies gave pitcher Chris Archer, outfielder Brandon Guyer, catcher Robinson Chirinos, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee and outfielder Sam Fuld.
When Tampa Bay traded Shields to the Kansas City Royals in 2012, it got back four minor leaguers, including top prospects Wil Myers and Jake Ororizzi. In order for Atlanta to secure Price, it will need to come up with a similarly attractive package of young players.
Atlanta has the farm system with the level of talent Tampa Bay would covet. Right-hander David Hale might be a solid centerpiece to a deal after he came up to the bigs in September to go 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA in two starts. Given how much young pitching is already at the major league level for the Braves, it should surprise no one to learn that seven of the top 10 Atlanta prospects are pitchers.
The Braves have the young players to deal, but will they choose to push their chips into the center of the table and announce that they are all-in to win right now?
Reuniting a Couple Vanderbilt Lefties
The comfort level of a player coming to a new team and a new city is always a big factor in whether or not he will be able to have immediate success in Year 1. That shouldn't be a problem for Price as joining the Atlanta staff would re-team him with college teammate Mike Minor.
The two lefties pitched for Vanderbilt University in 2007 where they combined to go 20-2 for the Commodores.
Price was drafted by the Rays No. 1 over in the 2007 MLB draft while Minor went No. 7 overall to the Braves in 2009.
Price's Place in the Rotation
Price would be the immediate staff ace of the young Atlanta rotation. The Braves will say goodbye to Paul Maholm this offseason, leaving a glaring need for another left-hander to step into the starting rotation.
Alex Wood could be that left-hander if the Braves chose not to go after Price, but, if they were to add the Rays' ace, Wood could then be moved into the bullpen where he would take over the soon-to-be vacant seat of Scott Downs. Wood in the bullpen would also mean free agent Eric O'Flaherty might be expendable after Tommy John surgery cost him the 2013 season.
Adding a healthy Brandon Beachy back into the mix would surely give the Braves one of the most formidable starting rotations in all of baseball.
Prospective Rotation with Price
David Price, LHP
Kris Medlen, RHP
Mike Minor, LHP
Julio Teheran, RHP
Brandon Beachy, RHP
Anthony Schreiber is a freelance sportswriter who has been following the Atlanta Braves for over 20 years. He has penned articles for a variety of online publications and magazines.
- Sports & Recreation
- Atlanta Braves
- Tampa Bay Rays
- Tim Hudson