In a few years when people start reviewing some of the great trades of the John Schuerholz era, the Tim Hudson deal will be right near the top. In fact, it may even be tied with the Great Fred McGriff Theft of 1993.
In December 2004 the Braves sent Charles Thomas, Juan Cruz and Dan Meyer to the A’s for Hudson. A quick scan of the internet tells me that none of those guys is on a big league roster (but I hear the Marlins may be looking.)
In every season that Hudson has been healthy (he missed parts of 2008-2009 due to Tommy John) Hudson has won at least 13 games. I know wins aren’t the most important pitching statistic, but it shows how consistent Huddy has been.
Recently the Braves picked up Hudson’s $9 million option for the 2013 season. Much like Brian McCann, the Braves face a tough decision at the end of next season with Hudson.
There is no doubt that Hudson has been the Braves most consistent pitcher over the last three seasons. However, his velocity is dropping (down close to two miles per hour) and his groundball rate is going down even faster. According to Fangraphs, Hudson (an extreme ground ball pitcher) saw his groundball rate drop to just over 55%, his career average is 58.7%. These are bad signs going forward.
So what do the Braves do next year with Hudson? Going back to the McCann comparison, I don’t think they know. I think they will see what kind of season he has and go from there. This may be one of those cases where a player really wants to stay somewhere and will take a deal for less money. I am not sure Hudson can put up the same numbers as he has in recent history given he is 36 and his stuff is in decline. Plus, the Braves have a ton of young, cost controlled starters and not enough rotation spots for them.
I am not sure he will be worth $9 million guy going forward and if he has a solid season, pitching starved teams will offer him that much. I could see the Braves tossing him a two year, incentive laden deal for $5-$8 million per year, but no more. If Hudson just really loves playing in Atlanta, he may take it. However, I wouldn’t expect 200 innings and 16 wins out of him anymore.
Of course, we could move Hudson to the outfield. He did hit .216 this year, and that’s almost as good as Uggla (.218).