Is Tim Hudson the Missing Piece of the Puzzle?
After the chaos that unfolded earlier on Monday when the Indians extended a $14.1-million qualifying offer to Ubaldo Jimenez and opted not to do the same for Scott Kazmir, attention quickly shifted to the Indians next plan of attack. With the likelihood of losing two fifths of their starting rotation a distinct possibility, the Tribe brass began reaching out to any number of potential free agent targets.
Hudson, who is coming off of a gruesome ankle injury (he fractured his ankle back in July when Eric Young spiked him covering first), was not extended a $14.1-million qualifying offer from the Braves. This is significant for two reason. First, it allows Hudson to freely exlore the free agent market. Second, there is no compensatory penalty for signing Hudson. This means that the Indians can sign Hudson away from the Braves without losing one of their precious draft picks in 2014. That is huge for a team that is looking to continue improving its big league club without sacrificing from its minor league system.
Jul 11, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Tim Hudson (15) celebrates getting out of the fifth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
However, the lack of a qualifying offer also makes Hudson attractive to several other teams who may not have otherwise been interested. Upon their initial report, MLB Trade Rumors was reporting upwards of eight to ten different teams showing interest in Tim Hudson. Among them, the Giants, Red Sox, A’s Rangers, Royals, Indians and of course the Braves.
The Indians appear to be serious in their pursuit of the one time Oakland ace and have begun putting on the full court press for his services. It has been rewarded that manager Terry Francona has already reached out to Tim Hudson and has had a lengthy conversation with him about joining the Indians in 2014. This may prove to be a worthwhile strategy as it was the efforts of Terry Francona last offseason that helped lead to the signing of Nick Swisher after he was heavily courted by several other teams.
Perhaps in the most surprising twist of all, it may be the Royals who give the Indians the biggest challenge for Hudson’s service other than the Braves. Ned Yost is set to contact Hudson in order to plead the case of the Royals and why Hudson should consider making Kansas City his home for the foreseeable future. The move makes sense. After the successful end to the 203 season for the Royals, they are in a position to acquire talent, especially on the mound, in order to compete for the AL Central crown in 2014.
Of course, the Indians and Royals, or any team for that matter, will have to pry Tim Hudson away from the Braves in order to have him on the mound for them in 2014. That will be no easy feat. The Braves value Hudson for his clubhouse leadership in addition to his work on the mound. It also helps that he has been in Atlanta for upwards of nine seasons. There is a history there and not one that can be easily forgotten. So while the Braves did not extend Hudson a qualifying offer, that doesn’t ensure his exit from Atlanta.
As for Tim Hudson, he is set to have the screw removed from his surgically repaired ankle this week. This is the final stage of recovery following what was one of the most gruesome injuries in recent memory. Per reports, Hudson should be able to begin throwing off of a mound sometime in the next two weeks and should be ready to go when Spring Trainging starts in Februray.
Despite his age, Hudson is 38 years old and will turn 39 during the 2014 season, he has been a consistent performer throughout his career. Even during the 2013 season, Hudson was pitching well before his injury occurred as the table below can attest. The right number of years at the right price and Hudson could be a perfect match for the Indians. Unfortunately, with multiple teams bidding for his services, it may take a two year deal, or possibly even three in order to bring him to town. Teams will have leverage over Hudson due to his recovery from a serious injury and its potential lingering effects, but all it takes is one team to do something ill-advised to push the bidding up.