COMMENTARY | It would have been a storybook ending for both the player and the team.
Tim Hudson returning to Northern California to finish up his stellar career with the team that got it all started. Reports on Monday indicated that the Oakland Athletics finished second behind the cross-bay rival San Francisco Giants in the pursuit for the veteran starting pitcher. In the end, Hudson signed what has to be considered a surprisingly expensive two-year, $23 million contract with the Giants.
While it remains to be seen what the A's offered Hudson, common logic seems to suggest that it was somewhere in the same ballpark as what he ended up inking with the Giants. If so, it's a good thing thing that Hudson chose not to return to Oakland.
As a small-market team, the A's need to make sure that when they spend money in free agency, it is not on a high-risk deal. The 38-year-old Hudson broke his ankle back in July and missed the last two-plus months of the season. He has started less than 30 games in each of the last two years and is averaging just 24 starts per season since the start of the 2008 campaign.
That's not exactly the type of durability a small-market team looks for when facing the possibility of doling out an average of $11.5 million per season. This is only magnified by the likelihood that the A's would have relied on Hudson to be the staff ace. It is, however, a risk the Giants can afford to take. They have veteran stability atop their rotation with both Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, which gives them backup options should Hudson go down for an extended period of time.
If the A's do end up retaining Bartolo Colon to a similar deal as the one Hudson signed with San Francisco, it would still make more sense. Despite being two years older, Colon was simply the better pitcher last season. He won 10 more games and pitched nearly 60 more innings than Hudson in 2013.
In addition, Colon acted as a leader for what was an incredibly young staff in Oakland. With Brett Anderson potentially moving on via trade, the Athletics have five starting pitchers, who started a combined 127 games last season, with less than three full years of MLB experience.
As of right now, Oakland can afford to sit back and let the free-agent market play out and simmer down for a second. A combination of Jarrod Parker, Sonny Gray, A.J. Griffin, Dan Straily and Tommy Milone wouldn't be the worst starting rotation for a playoff contender in the American League next season. This would enable general manager Billy Beane to use his limited resources to find an upgrade in the outfield and along the back end of the bullpen.
This may be pure conjecture on my part, but it seems highly unlikely that Colon's contract will match what Hudson signed with the Giants. If that's the case, Beane will have a few extra dollars to throw at another area of need.
In fact, indications are that the A's are looking at a one-year deal for Colon. Whether that gets the job done isn't really the point. Oakland's potential investment in Colon won't be anywhere near as much as it would have been with Hudson should he have decided to return to the club. With things moving at a frantic pace, it does appear that missing out on Hudson was the best-case scenario for Oakland.
Let's now take a step back and see how the rest of the dominoes fall.
Vincent Frank has been a follower of the Oakland Athletics since the late 1980s and has written about the team on multiple sites, including SB Nation and eDraft. He attends games on a consistent basis and talks about the team on his weekly radio show.
- Sports & Recreation
- Oakland Athletics
- Tim Hudson
- San Francisco Giants
- Bartolo Colon