Hudson passes physical, extension with Braves all but official

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Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that Tim Hudson “has passed his physical and essentially made his three-year contract extension a done deal.”
Unlike the Rays and Pirates with yesterday’s Akinori Iwamura-for-Jesse Chavez trade the Braves will likely wait until after the World Series to officially announce the Hudson deal, but he’s expected to receive about $27 million over three years.
Hudson’s old contract contained a $12 million mutual option for 2010, but the two sides reportedly worked out a new deal last week and merely had to wait until the insurance company approved a doctor to do the physical exam. Atlanta had strong rotation depth even before re-signing Hudson through 2012, so the Braves seem almost guaranteed to trade a starting pitcher this offseason.
They’d no doubt like to unload the remaining three years and $45 million on Derek Lowe’s contract, but if that proves impossible parting with Javier Vazquez or Kenshin Kawakami are also options. With a front three of Hudson, Tommy Hanson, and Jair Jurrjens in place for at least the next three years general manager Frank Wren has quite a bit of flexibility and the assets to address other areas.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.