Monday, September 6, 2010

Orlando Hudson




I was pretty clear this past off-season that I wanted the Twins to sign Orlando Hudson to upgrade their porous second base play last season. Despite getting benched for the last six weeks by Joe Torre in favor of career backup Ronnie Belliard, Hudson finished with a .283/.357/.417 line last season. The league average for a 2B was .274/.340/.410, so Hudson was slightly above average offensively. I was adamant that the Twins acquire Hudson, though, because of his outstanding on base percentage over his career, and felt he would fit in perfectly in the #2 slot in the lineup.

However, I've been wrong now in two consecutive off-seasons as to what Orlando Hudson would sign for. During the 2008 off-season, Hudson was coming off a .305/.367/.450 season in which he also won a gold glove, and the going rate for good, middle infielders seemed to be around $10MM per year. I didn't think a 3 year, $30MM contract was out of the question at all, and deemed him too expensive for the Twins to seriously target. He also was a Type A free agent, so the Twins would have had to give up their first round draft pick to sign him, which they undoubtedly decided wasn't worth it. However, Hudson ended up signing for just 1 year with the Dodgers, getting a little over $3MM guaranteed with up to $3MM in incentives.

Joe Torre benching Hudson during the '09 season undoubtedly hurt Hudson's stock this past off-season, but that allowed his price to come down enough for the Twins to lock him up. Signing another 1-year deal, Hudson is making $5MM this season. Fan Graphs has Hudson pegged at 3.5 WAR, which means they think Hudson has been worth 3.5 wins by himself this season. That's a good number, and that's why Fan Graphs says his production is worth close to $14MM. Considering the Twins are 3.5 games up at the moment, I think the entire organization would agree that Hudson's actually been worth quite a bit more than that because the Twins need those extra 3.5 wins much more than a team like the Orioles or Pirates do.

Now, the Twins can't offer Hudson arbitration if he qualifies as a Type-A free agent, and at the moment he would qualify as a type-A. That should improve Hudson's chances at finding a multi-year offer, since teams won't need to give up draft picks to sign him, but he wasn't offered arbitration last year and still had to settle for a one year deal.

Ultimately I think the Twins will try to bring Hudson back on a 2-year deal between $10-12MM. A team like the Nationals or Indians may be willing to offer a longer deal or more money, but at this point a return to Minnesota seems the most likely. The Twins don't have a replacement anywhere close to major-league ready, and Hudson won't have the chance to win over the next few years in the places that may offer a little more money.