The Colorado Rockies will not sign Orlando Hudson. It will not happen. Period. But, with that said, the team should pull the trigger—and I’m going to spend the next five minutes convincing you why.
As the economy continues to dictate the movements of all but the wealthiest of sports teams, prices for free agents continue to fall. With the economy in a constant state of chaos, it just doesn’t make sense to spend $4 million a year on a player when a team can insert a prospect for considerably less.
The situation has resulted in a number of high-profile free agents being left in the cold at discount prices all winter. One such player left up for grabs is Orlando Hudson.
It has been no secret from the beginning of the offseason that the Rockies lack a reliable second baseman. Clint Barmes has claimed the job, mostly on blue-collar work ethic and a high batting average, but his contributions have been lackluster at best.
The 29-year old posted a .290 average last season, but could only muster 17 walks, finishing his season with a .322 OBP. Considering he was slotted at leadoff or second in the lineup for all but 131 of his at bats last season, it’s not surprising the team had trouble scoring runs.
Barmes proved last season that he could both bit for power and utilize his speed on the base paths, but his lack of patience at the plate should have signaled a red flag for Rockies’ management.
Hudson is considered one of the premier infielders at play in this off-season’s free agent class. A career .282 hitter, Hudson has boasted OBP’s of .354, .376 and .367 over the last three seasons with mid-level pop.
His defense has been consistently good since he entered the league and he is looked at as a prototypical No. 2 hitter with solid speed and a good eye at the plate.
For the Rockies, Hudson would fill in nicely as the team’s No. 2 hitter, filling the gap between Ryan Spilborghs and Todd Helton. With Hudson and Spilborghs at the front of the team’s order, the team’s OBP would rise dramatically from last season when former center fielder Willy Taveras paired with Barmes to the tune of a combined OBP barely over .310. (Last season, Hudson and Spilborghs together totaled .381.)
The real question for the Rockies remains how the team could conceivably pay for Hudson. At this point, the second baseman would likely be looking for a one-year contract in the realm of $4 million. The signing would also cost the Rockies a second-round draft pick, as Hudson is considered a Type-A free agent.
Most would consider the Rockies a long shot at best to contend for the National League Pennant, but savvy moves to shore up the team’s pitching staff have made the team a quiet contender over the course of the off-season.
A move to solidify the front of the team’s batting order would go a long way toward making the team a legitimate threat going into spring training. Keeping Hudson away from the Dodgers and Diamondbacks would also be an important play.
The fact of the matter is this: Hudson would give the Rockies a legitimate hitter at the top of the lineup, likely moving Troy Tulowitzki to fifth in the lineup, where he could provide protection to Brad Hawpe. Hudson would also push Barmes into a utility role, filling in when necessary rather than on an every day basis.
In any other offseason, Hudson would have garnered $8 to $12 million over four seasons and never looked back. The fact that he’s now desperate and asking for less than $5 million a season shouldn’t be ignored.
Hudson would be a significant upgrade, not to mention an incredible bargain, for the Colorado Rockies. Management would be foolish not to consider him a viable option.