Tim Hudson will take a hometown discount to stay in Atlanta

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Either Tim Hudson is telling different things to different people, or else yesterday’s report that he’s rejecting his half of the mutual option was bogus.  This from Dave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution who says that he was told the following by Hudson himself:
 

a. He has made it clear – which he did again – that he wants to stay here and will accept a “hometown discount” to stay with the Braves (long as his idea of such a discount isn’t entirely different than what the Braves have in mind); b. He wasn’t under the impression the Braves were or are planning to exercise that $12 million option anyway, so why would he have told someone that they are and that he’s gonna veto it?, and c. Even if they do exercise the option, he’s not sure he’d veto it.

None of that necessarily means that Hudson won’t leave town.  He still will likely talk to the Braves about multiple years instead of the option, which doesn’t seem to be in either his or the Braves’ interests.  He likewise gave himself an out by noting that “hometown discount” does not mean “bargain basement.”  But the overall impression from these statements is that he wants to stay in Atlanta.

Maybe the most interesting thing in the article is O’Brien saying that a three year deal running between nine and ten million a year would get a deal done. That seems low to me, and maybe counterproductive for Hudson.  If he’d take that, it means he really wants to stay in Atlanta.  But it’s a reasonable enough deal that Hudson would be an attractive trading chit in the event of anything other than strong contention by the Braves over that time, thereby increasing the odds that he’d, you know, not stay in Atlanta.  Hudson knows that, I’m sure, so he’d ask for a no-trade clause.  Which the Braves have a team policy against offering.  All of that makes for a tricky negotiation.

But obviously, if a team wants a player and a player wants a team, it’s much better to start off talking reasonable dollars rather than unreasonable dollars, and if O’Brien is right, that’s what’s happening here.

My guess: there will be a lot of back and forth on this over the next couple of months but, ultimately, Hudson will be in a Braves’ uniform next season.

Jose Canseco to join NBC Sports California as an A’s analyst

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Hey, I have a new coworker: Jose Canseco has been hired by NBC Sports California as an Athletics pregame analyst.

OK, maybe he’s not technically a coworker, as the folks at NBC Sports California — formerly CSN Bay Area — and I do not hang out at the water cooler, have potlucks in the conference room or exchange secret Santa gifts at Christmas time, but dang it, I’m gonna TELL people I work with Jose Canseco. The only downside will be people assuming that, because he and I are on the same team, my performance is something less than authentic. Or, perhaps, Canseco may write another book and tell all of my secrets.

Anyway, Canseco will be part of NBC Sports California’s A’s Pregame Live and A’s Postgame Live shows. Live TV can be hard. I’ve done a bit of it, and there is certainly more to that gig than meets the eye. You can’t always prepare for what happens on the fly. I’m sure Canseco will do well, however, as he’s great with coming up with the best stuff off the top of his head.

2017 Preview: Cleveland Indians

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Cleveland Indians.

The Cleveland Indians almost won the World Series without their best hitter for the whole season and two of their starting pitchers for the playoffs. This year that hitter — Michael Brantley — is back and the starters — Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar — are healthy. Oh, and they added arguably the best free agent bat available in Edwin Encarnacion.

Baseball teams love to downplay their expectations, but given where the Indians are at the moment, anything less than another American League Pennant will have to feel like a disappointment, right? Fortunately for the Indians, they stand as the favorites to do just that.

They didn’t lose much in the offseason. Yes, World Series hero Rajai Davis is gone, but the Indians outfield will be fine if Brantley remains healthy. Mike Napoli‘s loss will be felt but it will be made up for with Encarnacion’s bat and probably then some. Coco Crisp left too, but he was not a key part of the equation.

The biggest losses are guys from last year who will start the year on the disabled list, most notably Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall. Kipnis is just starting to work out following time off to rest his sore shoulder. Chisenhall ran into a wall the other day and is being evaluated. There is no sense that either will miss extended time, however.

Otherwise, the lineup should score a lot of runs, with on-base machines Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor setting the table for Encarnacion, Brantley and Carlos Santana, who is entering his walk year. The Indians trailed only the Red Sox in runs scored in the American League last year and they should score a lot of runs this year as well.

The strength of the club, however, remains its pitching. Corey Kluber looked like his old Cy Young self last year, particularly in the playoffs. Danny Salazar built on his excellent 2015 season in the first half before falling prey to injury. Carlos Carrasco posted an ERA+ of 141 before breaking his hand and Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer both stood out for fourth and fifth starters.

The bullpen is excellent too, as relief ace Andrew Miller is joined by Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and newcomer Boone Logan make up one of the relief corps in baseball.

Pitcher health is probably the biggest uncertainty for any contender, but the Indians have the best pitching in the AL if everyone stays healthy. And maybe even if one or two guys don’t.

It’s hard to find much fault with the 2017 Cleveland Indians. They are the class of their division and, while the slog of the regular season turns a lot of surefire contenders into hash before it’s all said and done, there is no reason to look at the Indians right now and think of them as anything other than the best team in the American League.

Prediction: First place, American League Central.