Tim Hudson aiming to return from back surgery by May 1

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Tim Hudson is recovered enough from November back surgery that he could be cleared to throw off a mound later this week and the veteran right-hander told David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution that his targeted return date is May 1 “at the latest.”

O’Brien describes Hudson as “upbeat and optimistic,” but any plans for his return to the rotation are a little premature until he begins throwing again at full speed and starts building back his arm strength. Barring a setback he’ll likely spend most of April pitching in the minors.

Hudson will make $9 million in the final season of a three-year, $28 million deal that includes a $9 million option or $1 million buyout for 2013. At age 36 getting healthy is vital to Hudson’s career, but last season he was the Braves’ best starter and one of the best right-handers in the league with a 3.22 ERA and 158/56 K/BB ratio in 215 innings.

Nationals Acquire Ryan Raburn From White Sox

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The Washington Nationals have acquired outfielder Ryan Raburn from the Chicago White Sox. Raburn had been playing at Triple-A Charlotte. He’ll be assigned to Triple-A Syracuse in the Nats organization. The Nationals will send cash or a player to be named later to the White Sox to complete the deal.

Raburn has yet to play in the majors this season. Last year he hit .220/.309/.404 with nine homers in 113 games for the Colorado Rockies. The year before that he hit an excellent .301/.393/.543 in part time play for the Indians. Over the course of his 11 year career the 36-year-old has hit .253/.317/.436, which breaks down to an OPS+ of exactly 100, which is league average. Primarily an outfielder, Raburn has played every position except shortstop and catcher in his career. He’s even pitched twice.

The Nats plans for him aren’t entirely clear, but depth it depth.

If the Tigers are sub-.500 at the end of June it’ll be fire sale time

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Jon Morosi reports that that the Detroit Tigers will make all veterans available via trade if they’re still under .500 by the end of June.

This was the position they entered the offseason with — everyone is available! — but they ended up gearing up for one more push with the core of veterans they currently employ. It was not a bad move, I don’t think. With the exception of the Indians, the AL Central is mostly down, or at least appeared to be over the winter, with the Royals in decline and the Twins and White Sox seemingly a few years away from contention. The Twins, however, have been fantastic and the Tigers have mostly underachieved.

So we’re back to this. Which veterans the Tigers can reasonably unload, however, is an open question. J.D. Martinez is in his walk year, so while tradable, he may not bring back a big return. Guys like Justin Upton, Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera either have very large contracts or no-trade protection.

The end of June is still a while from now, of course, and while the Tigers are under .500, they’re only 4.5 games behind the Twins. But they had better turn it around or else it sounds like the front office is going to turn the page.