It seems like just yesterday I was writing about how odd it was that Orlando Hudson had five triples and zero doubles this season. And now he’s out of a job.
San Diego released the veteran second baseman after Hudson hit just .211 with a .260 on-base percentage and .317 slugging percentage in 35 games despite those league-leading five triples.
He wasn’t a whole lot better last season, hitting .246 with seven homers and a .681 OPS in 119 games to snap a streak of nine straight seasons with an OPS above .700.
At age 34 he may simply be washed up and there was almost zero chance of Hudson being claimed off waivers thanks to his $5.5 million salary this season and $8 million team option or $2 million buyout for 2013. However, now that the Padres have released Hudson and eaten his contract it wouldn’t be shocking to see a contender (the veteran-loving Giants, perhaps?) snatch him up on the cheap.
Hudson repeatedly had trouble securing multi-year deals as a free agent until the Padres surprisingly handed him a two-year, $11.5 million contract in December of 2010, and he ended up giving them 154 games of a .657 OPS for the investment.
UPDATE: San Diego will have a completely new double-play duo, as the Padres also placed struggling shortstop Jason Bartlett on the disabled list with a strained knee. Everth Cabrera, who was stuck in the minors after being arrested this spring, and Alexi Amarista, who was acquired from the Angels for Ernesto Frieri recently, were called up from Triple-A and figure to see most of the middle infield action.
The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.
The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.
St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.
The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.
Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?
Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.