I couldn’t help but have a different take on Dave O’Brien’s Tim Hudson piece than Craig did this morning.
My take being that O’Brien should stick to writing about the Braves and give up trying to predict the free agent market.
There’s no doubt in my mind (Hudson would) take quite a bit less than $12 mill per season to stay here in a multi-year extension, probably less than $10 mill per. And I don’t think any other team would offer him even that much right now, not until he’s back for a full, healthy and strong season.
I’m not going to argue against the idea that Hudson would take less to stay in Atlanta. But the idea that Hudson will need to settle for less than $10 million or even $12 million per year is bizarre.
Let’s just look back at last year’s contracts for free agent starting pitchers:
CC Sabathia – seven years, $23 million per year
A.J. Burnett – five years, $16.5 million per year
Derek Lowe – four years, $15 million per year
Ryan Dempster – four years, $13 million per year
Oliver Perez – three years, $12 million per year
Kyle Lohse – four years, $10.25 million per year
Not one of those pitchers can match Hudson’s career 126 ERA+ (ERA adjusted for league and ballpark). Sabathia entered free agency at 121 and is at 123 now. Lowe was also at 121. Burnett, who has never had a season ERA+ as high as 126, came in at 111.
And this year’s class isn’t nearly as strong overall. Other than perhaps wild card Aroldis Chapman, who probably isn’t ready to be an asset now, I see only one starter as a better bet than Hudson on a long-term deal, that being John Lackey.
Even that’s iffy. So what if Hudson underwent Tommy John surgery. He made it back in excellent time, and he’s throwing just as hard now as he was before the procedure. His groundball rate is actually better than ever, though it’s a very small sample size. That he’ll end this year having only thrown 65 innings or so, in my opinion, only makes him a better bet for 2010.
Hudson has been a workhorse throughout his career, and there’s no reason to think he won’t recapture that form now that he has a new elbow ligament. I’d take my chances with him at $50 million-$56 million for four years over Lackey at $75 million-$80 million for five.
The Astros, Braves and Nationals came sniffing around White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana during the Winter Meetings, but each appeared to find the Sox’ asking price well beyond what they were willing to give up for the starter. On Saturday, Peter Gammons revealed that the White Sox had floated Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove as a possible return for Quintana.
It’s a strategy that worked well for Chicago in the past, most recently when they dealt Chris Sale to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, among others, and flipped Adam Eaton to the Nationals for a trio of pitching prospects. Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t appear eager to sacrifice some of his core talent to net a high-end starter, however, and told the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan as much on Wednesday:
We’re prepared to trade players to improve our club right now. […] We’re just not prepared to trade away players that are core to our production in 2017, and those are sometimes the players that are required to get these deals done.
While Lunhow was speaking specifically to the inclusion of third baseman Alex Bregman in future deals, it’s not unrealistic to think that top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker would also be considered instrumental to the Astros’ plans for the next few seasons.
Martes, 21, currently sits atop the team’s top prospect list on MLB.com. The right-hander blazed through his first full season in Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 3.30 ERA and career-best 9.4 K/9 over 125 1/3 innings in 2016. Tucker, meanwhile, profiles as the Astros’ second-best prospect and made a successful jump to High-A Lancaster last season, slashing .339/.435/.661 in 69 PA. Rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove is the only player left off the top prospect list, but he got off to a decent start with the club in 2016 as well, going 4-4 with a 4.06 ERA and 3.44 K/BB rate in 62 innings during his first major league season.
Twins’ right-handed pitching prospect Yorman Landa passed away in a tragic car accident on Friday night, per a team statement. According to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, 22-year-old Landa was in the passenger seat of the vehicle when it struck a fallen tree.
Daniel Szew, Landa’s agent, spoke highly of the young pitcher, who was one of his first clients back in 2010. Szew acknowledged Landa for helping him expand his company, LA Sports Management, and referred to the late pitcher as a leader and his “little brother.”
He was very even-keeled,” Szew said. “That was his personality. He wasn’t wild. That’s why this is so tragic. He wasn’t a wild guy. He was a happy-go-lucky guy who took life as it came, and he was super happy — always happy.
If leadership was one facet of Landa’s personality, so was loyalty. The 22-year-old agreed to a minor league contract with the Twins on Tuesday after getting cut from the 40-man roster, fulfilling a promise to re-sign with the club despite fielding multiple offers from competing teams. The deal included an invite to spring training, and comments from his agent suggested that the right-hander was “super confident” he’d break through to the major leagues in 2017, notwithstanding a troublesome shoulder injury that hampered his progress in High-A Fort Myers during the 2016 season.
“He never wanted to leave,” Szew told Berardino. “It was the only organization he ever knew.”
Our condolences go out to Landa’s family and the Twins organization during this terrible time.