Are the Atlanta Braves Taking a Chance on Tim Hudson?

Jason LempertCorrespondent INovember 18, 2009

ATLANTA - APRIL 30:  Tim Hudson #15 of the Atlanta Braves sits in the dugout against the New York Mets at Turner Field on April 30, 2006 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Braves defeated the Mets 8-5. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

If pitching wins championships, then the Atlanta Braves are making all the efforts to win in the next three seasons.

The team re-signed right-hander Tim Hudson to three-year contract, worth $28 million.  The agreement also includes a club option for 2013, worth $9 million.

But was this signing a risk worth taking for the Bravos?

Hudson will be turning 35 in July and has already started to show signs of slowing down over the last couple of seasons.  Since coming to Atlanta in 2005, his numbers across the board have been in a steady decline.  Last season, he made a total of seven starts due to surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing elbow, which he discovered shortly after the All-Star break in 2008.

The Braves did hold a $12 million option on the righty and one could argue that they should have exercised that option, given Hudson a year to prove he is healthy and righted the ship,then sign him to an extension.

And, it's not like the team has a shortage of starting pitching.  Javier Vazquez, the subject of many trade rumors, won 15 games for the Braves last season.  Derek Lowe was signed to a 3-year deal before the '09 season.  Youngsters Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson showed they belong in a Major League rotation. 

And while Kenshin Kawakami wasn't great by any means, they probably could have gotten away with either offering Hudson a shorter term contract, or going after a cheaper option.

But instead, GM Frank Wren and the Braves are taking a shot on the veteran righty proving his health and turning things around in 2010. Will this move help send the Braves to the World Series, or to the NL East cellar?  How much improved is Hudson's shoulder? Can he return to his Oakland Athletic form? These are the questions the Braves brass are being overly optimistic about, in this writer's opinion.