If you were to look solely at the Toronto Blue Jays‘ goals of getting to the playoffs and the window of opportunity that they have to do so, Atlanta Braves veteran Tim Hudson looks like an ideal offseason target.
After all, one of the biggest things on GM Alex Anthopoulos‘ wishlist this winter is at least a mid-rotation starter (if not an ace, though that’s likely very wishful thinking), and mid-rotation starts don’t come in much more prototypical fashion than the 38-year-old right-hander.
Surely, that number is going to be of some concern, especially with Hudson coming off a devastating ankle injury; that said, the freak nature of how it occurred also gives him the benefit of the doubt that it won’t necessarily be a recurring issue once he is properly headed in the offseason.
Besides, even at age 38, it’s not like the workhorse has missed a whole lot of steps either.
Braves fans will already know this, but Hudson excels in giving teams certainty in knowing what they’ll get. In this case, 200 innings with an ERA mid-to-high 3.00s ERA, about 6.00 K/9 and 2.6-ish BB/9. He’s a ground ball pitcher to the core, finding much of his success with a 2.50 career GB/FB while not allowing a whole lot of line drives (18.1 percent over career).
Needless to say, that kind of stuff can play pretty well in homer-friendly Rogers Center and outside of Esmil Rogers, no one of the Blue Jays staff who made more than 10 starts in 2013 even comes close to having that kind of ability. If Hudson did end up north of the border, it’d probably be reasonable to expect some changes in those numbers, but a 2.0-plus fWAR season with a 4.00-ish ERA through 180 or so innings would seem to be a good lock.
So, how much is that worth to the Blue Jays? Well, that’s where the circumstantial fit gets even better.
At this point in his career, it’s very unlikely for Hudson to get any contract longer than two seasons as the thought of retirement looms season to season … and it just so happens that such a timeline would match Toronto’s window to compete. $20 million over two years for Mark Buehrle-like numbers would be a pretty good deal for the Blue Jays if they can get it done.
Doing so would allow the Blue Jays to move some of their starting pitching depth for help elsewhere, and while it doesn’t give the team a shutdown ace, an innings-eater in the middle of the rotation is a whole lot better than firing up that pitching carousel when Brandon Morrow gets hurt again by June, yes?
All of the above, however, is much easier said than done, mostly because Hudson’s goals happen to be pretty different from that of the Blue Jays.
Starting pitching might turn out to be more of a seller’s market in free agency this offseason, and the veteran is more than likely going to be pretty picky about his next destination with the Braves being heavily favoured, and a return to the west coast just behind.
A return to the AL, to a team that’s going to have a hard time competing for the postseason even if they accomplish everything they hope to this offseason? That simply doesn’t sound like what Hudson would be into.
It’s too bad too, because Hudson would be a pretty good fit in Toronto, giving them both a dose of veterany goodness and consistent production. If only the team could clone a cheaper version of Buehrle …