Tim Hudson, Braves talking contract extension

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Last week the Braves and Tim Hudson began discussing a contract extension and Dave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that the two sides “plan to resume negotiations this week” on a deal “expected to be for at least three years” at more than $9 million per season.
For now he’s still technically under contract with a $12 million mutual option for 2010 and the Braves would likely be in favor of bringing the 34-year-old right-hander back on a one-year deal given that he’s just seven starts removed from Tommy John surgery.
However, Hudson has indicated that he’ll opt out in search of a multi-year pact after looking good down the stretch with a 3.61 ERA and 30/13 K/BB ratio in 42 post-surgery innings. Hudson has said previously that he’d take “a hometown discount” to remain in Atlanta, but that still probably means at least $30 million over three years.
When healthy he’s long been one of the better starters in baseball, but as the Braves have learned with Derek Lowe committing to a multi-year contract with any pitcher in his mid-30s is a gamble and Hudson’s elbow problems obviously make him an even bigger risk. Beyond that, with Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, Kenshin Kawakami, Javier Vazquez, and Lowe the Braves have perhaps the most rotation depth in the league.
They could definitely withstand losing Hudson and in fact re-signing him would almost surely mean trading away one of Lowe, Vazquez, or Kawakami. A decision on his mutual option for 2010 must be made within three days of the World Series ending, so if Hudson is going to remain in Atlanta it seems likely that a new deal will be struck this week.

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.