I'm gonna punch my cousin right in the head if they get Price or Bautista.
Tim Hudson deal looks good for Giants.Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The San Francisco Giants overpaid for one of their own starters last month when they gave Tim Lincecum a two-year deal worth more per year than the qualifying offer would have cost, but they seem to have spent their money more efficiently on Tim Hudson, getting a better pitcher whose market may have been limited by his season-ending ankle injury, for a deal reportedly worth $23 million over two years.
Hudson, 38, was headed for a 2-2.5 WAR season when he got hurt in late June, and his peripherals were all in line with his recent history or better, including the second-best strikeout rate he'd posted since leaving Oakland nearly a decade ago.
His skill set is one that tends to age well -- plus control with good sink and the ability to get ground balls. The main worry with any pitcher getting into his late 30s or early 40s is that a loss of velocity will lead to harder contact, meaning higher home run rates and potentially higher BABIPs as well, but Hudson's innate ability to keep the ball in the park will now be supplemented by 16 or so starts a year at the spacious AT&T Park, plus a few at Petco Park and Dodger Stadium, which are also pitcher-friendly. He might only be good for 350 innings over two years, but even if he loses another mile an hour or two on his fastball I like his chances to provide good value on this deal.
The Giants seemed to be targeting multiple starting pitchers this offseason as Ryan Vogelsong and Barry Zito will not be returning to the rotation in 2014, but with Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Hudson, and in theory Lincecum (assuming he doesn't pitch his way out of the rotation), they're most of the way to a complete set. While Lincecum is a bit of a wild card because of his poor performance over the last two years, Hudson is a significant upgrade over Voegelsong and Zito, who were both below replacement level in 2013.
The real question is whether this is just much ado about nothing, as the unbalanced Giants' offense is likely to get little to nothing offensively from shortstop, second base, left field, and it’s hard to see them getting close to the Dodgers this winter unless the latter club suffers a rash of injuries or off-years from its loaded roster.
Atlanta was among roughly 10 teams interested in Hudson, but apparently made an initial offer well below his 2013 salary, a tactical blunder that may have cost the team his services given his past interest in staying in the southeast. The club is in good shape without him, though, as Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran, and Mike Minor are a strong front three and Atlanta could get a healthy Brandon Beachy back out there for 25-30 starts as he continues to recover from June 2012 Tommy John surgery.
Teams that had been interested in Hudson will have to turn to other starters with question marks, like Josh Johnson (elbow surgery), Scott Kazmir (lack of track record), or Bartolo Colon (age, girth, PED past, etc).
Phillies again overpay an aging player.Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The Philadelphia Phillies have made the first two notable signings of the offseason, and this latest one is even worse than the first. Giving Marlon Byrd a little more than he was worth was bad, but giving Carlos Ruiz, a 34-year-old catcher with platoon problems who's coming off a PED suspension a three-year deal is absolute lunacy.
The deal, with an average annual value of $8.67 million, covers Ruiz's age-35-through-37 seasons, and it's not like his age-34 season was such a rousing success. Right-handed pitchers blew him up in 2013 (.257/.301/.335 line against), and he didn't hit any kind of velocity as his bat had clearly started to slow. He still can do damage against left-handers and is an adequate defender, blocking pitches well and nailing about a quarter of opposing runners, but taking value away with poor pitch framing.
Just 70 catchers have reached 400 plate appearances in a season in which they were 34 or older, and a third of them were worth 1 WAR or less -- and that doesn't even consider catchers who performed so badly they lost their jobs midyear.
The Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies were both interested in Ruiz, presumably looking at two-year deals for less money than Phillies GM Ruben Amaro offered him, and now have to look elsewhere for catching.
The Red Sox could turn back to Jarrod Saltalamacchia and are one of the few teams that could afford Brian McCann; the Rockies, looking for a catcher so that they can move Wilin Rosario out from behind the plate, may have to look to the trade market unless they want to roll the dice on Dioner Navarro.
The Phillies, meanwhile, are creating a bigger mess for themselves for 2014 and beyond, and if next season leads to a GM change, it's going to be a long road back for Amaro's successor.