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SAN FRANCISCO – Tim Hudson leads all active major league pitchers with 205 career victories. Count on his next one coming in a Giants uniform.
The Giants wanted three attributes as they shopped for their rotation: experience, durability and the willingness to put pen to contract. They convinced Hudson to make a quick decision by offering him a second guaranteed year, and the two parties agreed in principle to a deal that will pay the veteran right-hander $23 million over two seasons.
Hudson joins Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum in a rotation that simply must return to elite status if the Giants hope to reassert themselves and contend for the NL West title.
Hudson must be convinced they can. He only considered contending teams in his free agency, and there was little chance he would return to the Atlanta Braves after they declined to make him a qualifying offer. The Braves reportedly offered him a one-year deal at a pay cut from the $9 million he made last season, and didn’t match the Giants when given a chance.
Hudson was a durable and dependable performer as the ace of the Oakland A’s staff before his Tommy John surgery in 2008 and he’s reestablished that reputation since then. The only reason the three-time All-Star didn’t toss 200 innings for the ninth time in his career last season is because he fractured his ankle July 24 when Eric Young Jr. inadvertently stepped on him while he was trying to cover first base.
Surgery on his fractured ankle went well and he already is considered fully recovered. He should be unrestricted on the first day of spring training, but obviously there’s more risk involved when you’re talking about a 38-year-old coming off ankle surgery and with a Tommy John procedure in his not too distant past.
When healthy, Hudson seldom gets knocked out of starts early, and although he’s going to turn 39 in July, his game is more about location than velocity. He works quickly, involves his defense and doesn’t issue a lot of walks.
Hudson promises to bring more than quality innings. He’d bring toughness and leadership to the clubhouse. And he’s a guy you want on the mound in a big game, or a playoff environment. Wins don’t mean what they used to, but you have to respect the fact that no active pitcher has more of them than Huddy.
The move bears some resemblance to the Giants’ decision in 2009 to sign Randy Johnson for $9 million. Even though Johnson didn’t stay healthy, the front office still liked the competitiveness he brought to the staff.
A short-term deal is what the Giants wanted as they buy time for their pitching talent in the low minors, and even the Ricky Nolascos of the world are probably going to get a fourth year from someone.
So there weren’t many options like Hudson who were willing to sign for just a year or two. He won’t cost the Giants a compensatory draft pick, either.
According to a source, Hudson was in the Bay Area on Monday, likely to take his physical, and was expected to fly back to Georgia on Tuesday.
The Giants might not be done. They continue to make overtures to other free-agent starters, although they aren’t expected to go four years for right-hander Ricky Nolasco. Bronson Arroyo and Dan Haren are other targets.
Bayareasportsguy.com was first to report the signing and terms.
In line image of Tim Hudson provided by The Associated Press