Editor's note: Stay logged on this offseason as Giants Insider Andrew Baggarly files his thoughts on available MLB free agents and the possibilty they could become Giants.
SAN FRANCISCO – Our offseason “pros and cons” series continues with a look at a former A’s ace whose 205 wins are the most among active pitchers: right-hander Tim Hudson.
Should the Giants target Hudson? Let’s weigh the pros and cons:
Hudson was a durable and dependable performer 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 is because he fractured his ankle July 24 when Eric Young Jr. inadvertently stepped on him while he was trying to cover first base. 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.
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Hudson’s injury might have been a freak thing, but as any osteopath will tell you, it’s harder to heal in your late 30s than in your late 20s. 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.
A short-term deal is what the Giants want 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 aren’t many options like Hudson who are willing to sign for just a year or two. He wouldn’t cost a compensatory draft pick, either.
Hudson is from Columbus, Ga., and went to Auburn, and although his public stance is that he’s willing to play anywhere, he has enjoyed his time with the Braves and would like to return. Atlanta’s initial offer represented a pay cut from the $9 million that Hudson made last season, which isn’t a surprise. It’s possible Hudson and his representatives could use the Giants to motivate the Braves to beef up their offer.
There’s nothing wrong with a veteran presence to complement Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum in the rotation. Hudson would 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 Giants already invested in a former “Moneyball” era pitcher and that didn’t go too well, did it, Barry Zito? (OK, we’re stretching here.)
Signing Hudson would be similar to the Giants’ gambit in 2009, when they gave an aging Randy Johnson one year and $9 million to be their fifth starter. Johnson got his 300th win but wasn’t too durable, as it turned out. The Giants feel strongly that Hudson has at least one more 200-inning season in him, and if he’s willing to strike a quick deal, he could be their first acquisition of the winter.
When GM Brian Sabean identifies a player he wants, he moves fast. And Hudson wants to pick a place where he can win; he’s never advanced past the first round of the playoffs. If the Braves don’t boost their price, we’ll predict he picks the Giants for one year and $10 million, with some innings-based incentives that could tack on a couple million more.