Tim Hudson is a veteran starting pitcher with a proven track record of sustaining success, but the San Francisco Giants might have been ill-advised to rapidly snag his services off the free agent market early in the offseason.
There’s little doubt that Hudson is capable of solidifying a Giants rotation that already features four pitchers with World Series experience. But was the 38-year-old injury-prone hurler legitimately the best option available for the Giants in free agency?
General manager Brian Sabean undoubtedly took an academic approach in filling the Giants’ most glaring roster voids this offseason. Signing Hudson to a two-year, $23 million deal is proof of that, especially considering that top-tier pitchers like Matt Garza (four years, $50 million) and Ervin Santana (unsigned) were (and still are) available on the open market.
The Giants definitely needed to revamp their formerly dominant pitching staff, but it remains to be seen if Hudson is actually the right man for the job. San Francisco’s struggles are typically attributed to their lineup’s glaring lack of run production efficiency, but the Giants’ pitching staff was equally horrendous in 2013, posting a 4.00 team ERA.
At this point of the offseason, the Giants’ deficiencies have been critically examined to a pulp. It would be unfounded to think that Sabean’s brain trust didn’t have much of this already in check when he pushed Hudson’s right hand to paper back in November. But why Hudson?
It’s not like the Giants were desperate for veteran leadership. The $20 million void left behind by 2012 NLCS hero Barry Zito was an alleviating circumstance, minus the ridiculous “see-you-never,” $7 million buyout. San Francisco could have seemingly done anything and everything necessary to acquire another big-time pitcher in attempt to re-solidify their formerly vaunted starting rotation.
In fact, the Giants supposedly checked in on Tampa Bay Rays‘ ace David Price at some point in December, although none of those reports could be confirmed. The Giants could certainly afford Price from a pocketbook perspective, but their depleted pool of prospects screams different.
According to Keith Law of ESPN Insider, the Giants currently boast the 25th best farm system in the big leagues. Acquiring a player of Price’s caliber would be detrimental to the hopeful future of the Giants, considering the ridiculous lack of talent they possess in the minor league ranks.
But was Garza too expensive? Not at all. His average salary exceeds Hudson’s by just $1 million. The Giants aren’t in the business of concentrating their interests in money, though. It’s all about time. And Garza would have been guaranteed more time than Hudson.
Despite a severe lack of minor league talent, the Giants are motivated to clear the books of all questionable deals at some point (courtesy of Aaron Rowand and Zito).
Hudson posted comparable numbers to Garza in spite of an injury-plagued season in 2013. The vet registered a respectable 8-7 record with a 3.97 ERA and 95 Ks in 131.1 innings pitched while Garza recorded a 10-6 mark with a 3.82 ERA and 136 knockouts.
More interestingly, Hudson sported a slightly lower WHIP (1.19) than Garza in 2013 (1.24). The 38-year-old sports a near equivalent career statistic in comparison to Garza (1.23 to 1.28) but has pitched more than twice as many innings (2,813.2 to 1,182.1).
So, did the Giants pull the trigger too fast on Hudson? Maybe, but Hudson is a more capable winner than Garza or (enter name here). The Giants might have overpaid for Hudson in an economical sense, but for good reason.
They needed a proven winner that will do as the back of his baseball card says. Nobody else on the market was capable of achieving that feat.