This article is the last in a six part series discussing the players on the Atlanta Braves' 25-man roster that will be free agents this offseason.
In this week's edition, we are analyzing Braves starting pitcher Tim Hudson.
First let me clarify that Hudson is not a true free agent. The Braves do hold a mutual club option for 2010 at a value of $12 million that they can choose to exercise
What this means is that the Braves must first decide if they want to pick up the option. If they decline it, they have to pay Hudson a $1 million buy out. If they exercise his option, Hudson can choose to take the one-year contract, or reject it and forfeit the buy out.
Since coming to Atlanta in 2005 in a lopsided trade for Dan Meyer, Charles Thomas, and Juan Cruz (Who?), Hudson is 56-39 with a 3.77 ERA. Despite excellent numbers, contrary to most pitchers, Hudson performed better during his time in the American League.
Regardless, Hudson is an excellent pitcher and could serve to continue Atlanta’s pitching dominance in 2010 if the Braves choose to retain him.
Hudson spent the end of the 2008 season and the majority of 2009 recovering from Tommy John surgery. Once he returned, Hudson posted a 2-1 record in seven starts with a 3.61 ERA—good numbers for a player coming back from surgery at the end of the season.
If the Braves elect to decline Hudson’s 2010 option they will forfeit $1 million. Additionally, due to Hudson’s arm injury and lack of playing time over the last season, he will not be considered a type A or B free agent. Therefore, the Braves will not receive any draft pick compensation if Hudson were to sign with another team.
If the Braves are to keep Hudson however, they will have to figure out how to deal with having six capable starting pitchers. Most likely, due to the cost of their contracts, keeping Hudson would result in a need to trade either Derek Lowe or Javier Vazquez.
Of the two, Vazquez would seem to be the more coveted on the trade front. Coming off of the best season of his career and sporting a relatively affordable $11.5 million contract for 2010, Vazquez’s trade value will never be higher.
He will however be a free agent at the end of the 2010 season, which will decrease his value.
Keeping Hudson could entail one of two possible scenarios.
First, the Braves could simply elect to exercise his option and hope that Hudson would do the same. This will keep Hudson in Atlanta for 2010, but will enable him to be a free agent following the season.
The second option would be to re-sign Hudson for several additional years. This in my opinion is the Braves best option.
For the Atlanta native, a contract of three years, worth $27-30 million would most likely get the job done. At this price Hudson would seem to be a good value.
After all, for his career Hudson is 148-78 with a 3.49 ERA. He also has a 106-2 record when given a lead of three or more runs. Clearly Hudson is a valuable pitcher and, with Lowe’s assistance, can be a great mentor to Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson.
So what do you think, Braves fan? Should the Braves let Hudson leave, should they simply exercise their option for 2010, or should they re-sign Hudson to a longer deal?
I now write more frequently for the new sports network, Fan Huddle. You can read my Atlanta Braves blog at Braving Baseball. It's more commentary than you can shake a tomahawk at.