A one-year deal for 14.1 million bucks is more than the Braves can afford to spend on a 38-year-old pitcher coming off of a major injury. The Braves are still hoping to sign Hudson, but hopefully for much less money.
Unfortunately, for Braves fans and front office types, Hudson has been a surprisingly hot commodity in early free-agent chatter. This means he will likely get offered much more money than the Braves are comfortable with, and the Braves will have to either get creative or hope for a hometown discount.
Almost immediately after it was announced that Hudson would be a free agent with no draft-pick compensation attached, the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals, two other financially constricted teams coming off of successful years, showed interest. And if that weren't reason enough for concern, deeper pocketed clubs like the San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers, and even the reigning world champion Boston Red Sox have gotten into the conversation.
With that kind of deep-pocketed competition all bidding for Hudson's services, I would say that there is absolutely no chance that the Braves can sign him to another one-year deal. They could probably only offer something around $9 million for such a contract. I don't think it's too unreasonable to think that Hudson could get something close to what the Yankees offered Hiroki Kuroda last year ($15 million) were he to move on to greener financial pastures.
It's less clear that very many teams would consider offering a two-year deal, and almost certainly no club would go beyond two years. Hudson remains one of the most competitive starting pitchers in the game, and I suspect the guarantee of a second year on the diamond would go a long way. If Atlanta could offer Hudson a two-year deal for between $16 and $20 million, it might be enough to bring him back. Unfortunately, there are no indications that the Braves are either willing or able to offer either two years or that many dollars to Hudson.
The mantra so far for the Braves' offseason is that it's going to be more about who is going rather than who is coming. As much as it pains me to say it, Hudson will probably be one of the guys going elsewhere.
On the bright side, if you're a pitching prospect in the Atlanta system, there will probably be about 200 innings available for you to prove that we don't need to worry about losing one of the franchise cornerstones. It's time to toe that fine line between crisis and opportunity.
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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- Tim Hudson
- Atlanta Braves