When the 2008 offseason began, I, like many others, assumed that Orlando Hudson was in line for a huge contract. Hudson was considered to be the best free agent second baseman on the market and there seemed to be no reason why Hudson was no going to get paid.
However, the market for Orlando Hudson never developed. The long term deal that Hudson was seeking became a pipe dream and it became apparent that Hudson was going to have to settle for a deal that was far below what he wanted.
So Hudson settled for a one-year contract with the Dodgers and has been sensational so far. He has been a vital cog in the Dodgers lineup and seems to have reestablished himself as one of the best second basemen in baseball.
The Case for Hudson
-He can hit lefties
In 2009, Hudson has a fantastic .333 clip against southpaws and for his career, Hudson is hitting a respectable .265 against lefties. Those numbers indicate that Hudson is not a liability against southpaws and should be in the lineup everyday.
The great thing about Hudson is that for the most part, you know what your going to get with Hudson at the plate. Over the past four years, Hudson's batting average has sat around .290 with 10 or so home runs, to go along with a .370 OBP. Sure those numbers are a rough estimate, but almost every team in baseball would take those numbers from their second baseman.
It's impossible for a fan to judge this category, but from everything I have heard, Hudson is a fantastic guy in the clubhouse. Take this for what it's worth, but having a quality presence in the clubhouse certainly can't hurt.
The Case against Hudson
For so many years, Hudson was known as one of the best second basemen in baseball. However, over the past few years, his defensive ability has been declining.
According to fangraphs, Hudson's UZR/150 this season is a -6.0, in large part because of his diminished range (-4.9). Even though Hudson will not hurt you with his defense, he should no longer be thought of as one the premier defenders in baseball.
-Can he stay healthy?
Even though Hudson has avoided the DL so far this season, he has missed a large chunk of each of the past two seasons because of injuries. Hudson's injury history must be taken into account by any team that is looking to sign Hudson.
The free agent class of second basemen is quite interesting. I wouldn't say the class is particularly deep, but there are some intriguing names out there that are sure to draw interest from clubs. You could go with the younger option (Felipe Lopez), the slightly older, yet productive option (Polanco), or sign the versatile power hitter (Mark DeRosa) to play second base.
3 years/$20 million
Here are some comparable contracts:
Kaz Matsui: 3 years/$16.5 million
Mark Ellis: 2 years/$11 million
Brian Roberts: 4 years/$40 million
If last season taught us anything about second baseman, it's that they are not valued that highly on the free agent market. I expect Hudson to finally get paid his worth, but if he's expecting a 4 or 5 year deal worth $10 million per year, then he will be sorely disappointed...once again.