Earlier today BASG broke the news that Tim Hudson would be the newest member of the Giants pitching rotation on a two-year, $23 million deal.
I have to say that I love this deal; after the Giants brought back Tim Lincecum for two years and $35 million I was very concerned about the crazy type of deals starting pitchers may be getting this offseason. When the numbers that have floated around for the other starting pitchers started leaking I was even more concerned that the Giants would end up overpaying for a mediocre pitcher or ending up with a couple of reclamation projects.
Instead they were able to get Hudson on what amounts to a very reasonable deal.
Hudson is in the twilight of his career, yet has still managed to post numbers that have been league average or better over the last few seasons. He did post his highest ERA+ since 2006 last season, which can be mostly attributed to rather poor luck stranding runners. His fielding independent pitching numbers were essentially as good as they always were. Also positive is that he saw an uptick in his strikeout rate from 13.6% to 17.8% which suggests that his “stuff” hasn’t left him.
He may not be a sexy signing, but in this free agent pitching market there wasn’t really a starter that fit the bill outside of Masahiro Tanaka, who may or may not be posted this year. When the other options were looking at three to four year deals or came with the loss of the Giants first round draft pick, this deal looks even better.
Hudson has the health and age question marks to deal with. However, when compared to the other pitchers he stacks up really well talent wise.
It’s probably unrealistic to expect him to be the same pitcher he was the last time he pitched in the Bay Area, but even approaching his 40th birthday he should have a solid chance of being at least an average pitcher — and if the Giants can convert all those ground balls into outs, perhaps even a bit better.
If Hudson can give the Giants 350 innings of league average pitching, this will be a steal. If he isn’t healthy or his skills fall off a cliff he won’t cripple the payroll or cost the team a draft pick. With the Giants’ best pitching prospects at least a year away and possibly two, Hudson is the perfect bridge to that future talent.
In a market that is giving out crazy deals to free agents, the Giants are taking a calculated gamble that could pay off handsomely without a ton of downside risk. This is the type of deal that has worked well in the past for Brian Sabean and the Giants, hopefully it happens again.