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.

Tommy La Stella talks about his refusal to report to the minors in 2016

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In late July of 2016, Cubs infielder Tommy La Stella was demoted to Triple-A. It wasn’t personal. It was a roster crunch situation and La Stella had options left so, despite the fact that he had been an effective player to that point of the season, it made sense to send him down.

La Stella didn’t take the demotion well. In fact he refused to report to Iowa and went home to New Jersey instead. It was not until August 17 that he finally reported and then only after prolonged discussions with the Cubs and the assurance that he’d be back in the majors once rosters opened up. Which he was, after spending just over a week down on the farm.

Such a move by a player would, normally speaking, make him persona non-grata. His teammates would shun him and the organization would, eventually, cut bait, with the press characterizing him as a me-first player as he walked out the door. That did not happen with La Stella, however, who remains with the Cubs two years later and, by all accounts, is a popular and important guy in the Cubs’ clubhouse, even if he’s not one of the team’s big stars.

Today Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has an in-depth story about La Stella, what went down in 2016 and how he and the Cubs have proceeded since then. The story is subscription only, but the short version is that there was a lot of understanding and empathy on the part of the Cubs organization and their players about what was going on in La Stella’s head at the time and how everyone allowed everyone else the space to work through it.

I’m happy to read this story, because all too often we only hear about such incidents as they occur, with little followup. To the extent the story is told, most of the time its completely one-sided, with the player who acts out being treated like a bad seed with little if any explanation of his side of things. And, yes, there are always two sides to the story. Sometimes even more.

Kudos to Rosenthal for telling this story. Here’s hoping the next time a player is involved in a controversy that, in the moment, makes him appear to be a bad seed or have a bad attitude, we hear more about it then too.