Hudson, Braves make three-year deal official

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In a deal that was agreed upon weeks ago and delayed by the need for a pre-signing physical exam, the Braves and Tim Hudson have officially completed a three-year contract extension that includes a fourth-year team option for 2013.
Atlanta held a $12 million option or $1 million buyout on Hudson for 2010, but the new contract supersedes that. Hudson will reportedly receive around $9 million per season after posting a 3.61 ERA in seven starts down the stretch to apparently convince the Braves that he’s fully recovered from Tommy John surgery.
Obviously handing a three-year contract to a 34-year-old who’s just 42 innings removed from elbow surgery carries plenty of risk, but Hudson looked very much like his old self in September and has had an ERA above 3.75 just twice in 11 seasons. For his career he’s 148-78 with a 3.49 ERA in 2,060 innings, including 56-39 with a 3.77 ERA since coming to the Braves from the A’s in a December of 2004 trade.
Atlanta’s outstanding rotation depth hardly made retaining Hudson a must, so the Braves must be very confident about his elbow. General manager Frank Wren explained that re-signing Hudson “allows us to take the next step,” which almost surely means trading at least one of Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez, and Kenshin Kawakami for offensive help. Here’s more from Wren:

This does give us the depth and strength in one area of our club that allows us to do some other things now. We’re going to be looking at that over the next three to four weeks as we lead into the winter meetings. I think we’re a work in progress in that regard, still in feeling-out process with other clubs. This is the first step to it, and now we have some additional direction.

Lowe is 36 years old and just posted the second-worst ERA of his career, so shedding the remaining three years and $45 million on his contract will prove difficult unless the Braves are willing to eat a bunch of salary. Vazquez is coming off a fantastic season and will make $11.5 million in 2010 before becoming a free agent, so he’d be far easier to deal for significant value. Either way, with veteran starting pitching to shop the Braves will be major players at the winter meetings in a few weeks.

Orioles interested in Denard Span

Denard Span
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.

Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.

The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.

Blue Jays showing interest in Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.

Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.

Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.

After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.

Trevor Cahill considering the Pirates as a potential destination

Trevor Cahill
AP Photo/Paul Beaty

ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.

It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.

Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.

Blue Jays narrow GM search to two candidates: Tony LaCava and Ross Atkins

Tony LaCava
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.

LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.

Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.