Monday, November 18, 2013

Your 2014 Giants: Tim Hudson signed for 2 years, $23M

As reported by MLB Trade Rumors, the Giants have signed Tim Hudson (pending physical) to a two year, $23M contract, with possibly no-trade clause.   He only got $9M for last season, as well, appearing to have finished off a four year deal he had signed after the 2009 season, and coming off an injury as well, getting TJS in 2008 and only returning to pitching late in the 2009 season, for 7 starts (but good numbers overall).  Reportedly, we got him even though the A's were reportedly interested in his services as well.


ogc thoughts

Like a lot of Sabean deals, this one happened really fast.  Once the Giants were placed on his rumor radar as a possibility, and he stated that he was open to pitching on the west coast (he pretty much orchestrated his trade by the A's to the Braves, as he wanted to pitch for his boyhood team), he was pretty much signed sealed delivered within a week.  And our local scribes seemed to know which rumor was hotter than others, while there is mentions of the other pitching targets, when Hudson was rumored, that got its own post about that possibility.  In general, Sabean likes to act fast with guys they target and like to get things done before or by the GM meetings in December.

That amount of money ($11.5M per) normally would be considered a steal of a deal given his history of performance, but given that he missed the last two months of the season due to a broken ankle and that he has not returned to running yet (though the cast is off, he's gotten a clean bill of health, and is expected to start running again by Thanksgiving, roughly), some might view the deal as very risky, taking on a 38 YO pitcher who has not yet fully recovered from a ankle injury.  Seems like the Giants are valuing him to produce like he did in 2012, roughly a 1.5-2.0 WAR production with a 3.62 ERA.

Making it even worse, the Braves, his former team, reportedly not only offered him a one year contract at much below the $9M deal he had for 2013, but when the Giants deal was offered for a counter, they did not bother to.   Clearly they were not comfortable with the risk and/or his age, and they have had a close up view of his body over the past 9 seasons, so that is disconcerting.  If it was solely because the Braves rotation is full of young pitchers and they want to move on, then why even bother insulting someone who has been a leader for them and who had wanted to come home and pitch for his boyhood team?  Just say you are moving on and not try to low-ball him with a deal.  So this suggests that there might be something off that makes them unwilling to not only offer just one year, but very little for that one year.

Risk is All Relative

So yes, there is risk (including the no-trade clause) but I'm comfortable with this risk.  The Giants obviously have a lot of experience dealing with devastating ankle injuries, with their work on Posey's ankle.  I assume their trainers and doctors have pored over his medical records with a fine tooth comb and will kick the tires in their physical as well. Also, any of the pitchers available on the free market has some sort of risk beyond the normal TINSTAAPP worries one would have with any pitcher, that he can go at any moment.  It is a matter of picking your poison.

Or in this case, picking your potential.  He has a 3.44 ERA for his career, 3.35 ERA since he came back from TJS, so he has been very good for a very long time.  The Giants are pricing him in the high 3 ERA performance range, so if he returns to full health and can throw without any problems like he did before, he would be a great addition to any starting rotation as a top of rotation guy, let alone his position as a 3/4 for the Giants, where he would be a stupendous addition.  Without the injury and given he was on a great stretch of pitching when injured, he most probably would have had another good season, somewhere in the range of his 2011-2012 seasons.

And the risk is mitigated by the fact that it is only for two seasons and "only" $11.5M per season.  Obviously the Giants were able to navigate their way to two championships in 2010 and 2012 despite dead weight salaries of Renteria, Rowand, Zito, Huff, and Wilson during those years, for significant coin.  And at only two years, only 2014 is really at risk, because we have the bulk of our top pitching prospects coming to the majors in the 2015-2016 time frame, so should he not deliver in 2015, we should have plenty of alternatives to turn to, and if he is still pitching well enough, that should push out one of our prospects years of control out into the 2020 decade.

Very Productive Starter Who Has Been Mostly Healthy

He was still dealing well enough in 2013 when healthy.  His K/9 is on the low side (and horrible last season), but decent enough at 6.5 K/9, plus he hardly walks anyone so that helps a lot as well.  In 21 starts, he had 57% DOM starts, only 19% DIS starts, both very good numbers that only look bad in relationship to the Giants rotation of their championship years, that stretch from 2009-2012.

And he has been a horse, much like Zito has been.  In 11 of the 14 full seasons he could have pitched in, he had at least 179.0 IP, in 10 of them 188.2 IP or more.  And the 3 years he didn't, were marked by his TJS in 2008-2009 and his ankle injury in 2013, both freak type of injuries not expected to recur.  Otherwise, his body and arm has been pretty healthy and capable of putting in the innings, which is a key component of producing good value, being out there and playing.

Other Intangibles

Plus, the Giants aren't just acquiring him for his performance.  Being the wily vet that he is, he has a lot to pass on to younger starters, like Tim Lincecum, in particular.  John Shea noted an interview with Hudson from 2012, and here is the money quote on Timmy:
“Just as a fan and a veteran of the game, you want to try to help out young pitchers. From the other dugout, it’s what I see. His stuff is good. He’s still 91, 92, 93 (mph), plenty to win in this league, especially with that changeup. He doesn’t have to make every pitch a swing-and-miss pitch. I was the same way when I was younger. You feel like a stud out there when people swing and miss. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve preached to our young guys that strikeouts are sexy, but outs are outs, man, no matter how you get them. It’s a lot cooler for me pitching in the seventh or eighth inning than it is going 5 1/3. Your manager likes it a lot more, too.”
This is much in line with acquiring Morris to tutor Cain and The Big Unit to tutor Sanchez, as well as Lincecum and Cain.  If he can help Lincecum make that transition better and faster, that helps to make Lincecum's deal look like a good deal with great performance.  And Lincecum appears to be at that point of desperation where he's willing to try really new things - like pre-game going over hitters with the catcher - in order to become a better pitcher.  And not that he has been adverse to change - he did add pitches to his repertoire - but that there were some things he still needed a push on.  In addition, hopefully our top prospects take the opportunity to speak with him - and given his quote - I don't think he's going to be shy about going up to them the moment he sees a teaching opportunity

Consequences of Deal

I'm curious where Bochy will slot Hudson.  He will probably start off the rotation again with Cain and Bumgarner - Cain appears to be over his Perfecto stretch of games where he was merely good instead of great, and Bumgarner was great throughout most of the season, hitting the hits Timmy hit in terms of PQS DOM%.  I would have to think they put Tim 3rd due to his ego and youth, then Hudson, but, of course, that's up for restructure after the All-Star game.

And it sounds like the Giants are not done dealing.  They have reportedly talked with Josh Johnson as well as keep tabs on the Nolasco situation, though that's probably not happening because he wants 4 years and it sounds like they are only willing to go three.  And Arroyo appears to still be in the picture, though rumors has it that he's looking for something in 2 year, $30M range, much higher than Hudson.

Given that Arroyo is wanting that, I have to wonder, even with all the talk about how he accepted a lesser deal because of his injury, did the Giants position as near ready to make the push again for a championship helped sway Hudson to sign with them versus the A's, who failed again to get pass the first round of the playoffs?   Hudson is arguably equivalent to Arroyo, perhaps better, even with the injury recovery, and thus could have tried to hold out for more, even $13M per season seems reasonable given Arroyo wants $15M per.  But then he would risk losing all the available rotation spots on a team like the Giants, where their GM likes to move fast and get their ducks in a row quickly.  Seems to me that his desire for a ring possibly could have given the Giants a little discount.

This addition to the rotation also suggests that Vogelsong's fairy tale story with the Giants is near the end, unfortunately.  He has reported received contact from other teams but there has not been much on the Giants front since they exercised their team options and said that they were open to his return.  While the other teams are probably in no hurry to sign Vogelsong, making time not an issue, per se, now that the Giants are down to one rotation spot and appears to still be active with other free agents, it is possible that Vogelsong's desire to pitch for the U.S. in the WBC might have cost him his dream job with his team, as the record is not good:  most of the players involved with the WBC for the Giants had some kind of injury.  Good luck to him if this is what happens, he has been a good and stalwart Giant player.  Thanks for some great memories, either way.

Next Moves

Next up, it appears the Giants are focused most on obtaining a 5th starter of some repute, to supercharge their rotation for a run in 2014, which could be Sandoval's last year with the Giants and they are hoping for fireworks from him but obviously am unsure.  There was some talk about trading for another starting pitcher, and thus due to that uncertainty, the Giants could try a sideways move and trade Sandoval for a young starting pitcher plus a 3B starter who has struggled in his career.  The White Sox is rumored to be looking for left-handed power and is willing to trade one of their young pitchers plus has a 3B in Gordon Beckham who has been barely OK and a huge disappointment offensively, but has been much better defensively playing 3B than at 2B, where Chicago has decided was his position.

And Sandoval is the only trading chip that makes sense.  The Giants have made the point to say that they do not want to lose their draft pick - meaning all starters with a QO is probably off their immediate list - and that they do not want to trade away their young pitchers.  That really only leaves young players on the 25 man roster as potential trading chips, as I doubt any team is going to give us a decent starter for any of our position prospects without some of our good pitching.  Bumgarner and Romo are untouchables, Crawford alone won't do it, and the Giant are not trading away Belt unless they get a boatload of ready prospects, which is unlikely for any team to offer that (or even to have that, plus Belt is probably pretty much untouchable by this point anyway).  That leaves Sandoval, who has been recently noted as a possible trade target by the MLB Giants reporter and who was openly challenged by his GM in the season ending press conference.

They still need to figure out what they are doing with Lopez, though it seems like the Giants are willing and likely to resign him, but he appears to want to enjoy being a free agent and seeing what offers might come his way, particularly with all the extra money now sitting in teams' coffers from the new ESPN contract adding $20-25M to each team's revenues.  The Giants appear to have an agreement to get to match his best offer.  Let's see how crazy the bidding gets, though the Nats apparently are talking with him and he grew up in the nearby Virginia area, as did his wife as well.

The Giants are also looking to add power to the lineup, either at 1B (appears to be in play as they tried to sign Abreu but didn't match the years) or LF (meaning Belt would be at the other position, depending on who they sign).  I don't see how they will get a very good option via this route, anybody looking at this situation knows that Posey is playing significant amount of games at 1B (around 25-30 games) and if Belt continues to hit well, the missing games will mostly come out of the signed player's time.  So the Giants most probably will end up with a platoon level player, probably a left-handed hitter who kills RHP, so that most of time he is replaced is when it is a LHP starting.  Even if a decent starter is still desperate for a spot by spring training, odds are that he would not want to sign with a team intending to sit him down for significant amount of games like that, at least 15-20 games, depending on how many games the Giants are willing to sit Belt down.

As I've been saying for a while, I would just start Belt in LF - all the major defensive metrics do not rate Belt as highly as fans say he is at 1B - and start Pill at 1B most of the time.  If Pill does not figure it out with his extensive amount of playing in the first half of the season, the Giants can then pursue a free agent starting 1B from a team out of the race and looking to save money on their budget, and at that point would take a lower tier prospect from us.  Meanwhile, this frees Bochy up to start Posey at 1B more often since Sanchez is the backup catcher and replacing Pill's bat with Sanchez is not that big a deal, and if it is, that means Pill is hitting really well, and manager's love problems like that.

The lineup production potential even with Pill at 1B is still pretty good based on the other starter's established production level and projections.  And it is not like there are any great choices at 1B or LF right now, the best ones have a QO and unlikely to be signed by the Giants, leaving a lot of question marks out there on the market, lots of platoon type players.   I don't know that Pill will be any good, but I prefer that versus having to sign a question mark starter for $5-7M right now, just to cover that part of the lineup.  With a good rotation, we should be in the hunt no matter what by mid-season, at which point teams should be more willing to trade their big money free agents for very low prospect value if the Giants take on the salary.

4 comments:

  1. Ugh, forgot that igoogle replacement does not auto update and missed Baggarly's confirmation from the Giants that the deal was done: http://www.csnbayarea.com/giants/hudsons-deal-official-giants-arent-done-spending

    Contract is paying $11M in 2014, $12M in 2015. He did get the no-trade clause, which fits along with the scenario that he wants to win a ring and thus do not want to go anywhere he might not feel has as good a chance. Good point that he's a bulldog mentality joining two other in Cain and Bumgarner. Also makes the good point that being a shorter pitcher, he has much he can share with Lincecum, another short pitcher.

    Fitting my theory, the Giants are not sure that they had the highest bid. They are aware the A's were coming in hard too, but reportedly Hudson told Giants officials that he wanted to pitch in AT&T AND wanted to get pass the first round of the playoffs.

    Also news there is that the Giants are not done spending, and that is in spite of the $140M already committed to contracts so far. Appears Lopez is progressing along nicely, even with the Nats as a lure. Appears to me that the interest in him is not as strong as he hoped, so the two sides are now moving along towards an agreement.

    Good news for Vogelsong fans is that Arroyo's high demands (now said to be looking for Lincecum level contract) might make Ryan an option for the 5th spot. Given that there has been other pitchers mentioned as possibilities and yet is not mentioned in this article, I take as a positive towards retaining him. So I'm more heartened that he might be back in 2014, I think he will be having a comeback year, because he'll have a full off-season to get into better condition to compete in 2014 plus he also has a nice bulldog type of personality as well. If there is any characteristic to label the rotation, bulldog is a pretty good one right now.

    In addition, free agency appears to be out as an option for LF, and certainly no big splash, so the Giants are now looking for trade options for filling the spot, and that they are OK with a platoon buddy with Blanco.

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    Replies
    1. These all also suggest that the idea of trading Sandoval, while on the table, is probably not going to happen. If the talk is switching over the Vogelsong for pitching, that would make a trade with ChiSox to get young pitching with Sandoval less interesting. Also, losing Pablo would only make sense if we can get a better hitting LF option, and a Blanco platoon would not deliver that.

      This also means, since there is no talk about 1B as being an alternative, that the Giants look like they are sticking with Belt at 1B and, hopefully, is shifting him to LF for 10-20 of the games that he will have to sit so that that Posey can start at 1B and get a rest (relatively) for 20-30 games.

      However, maybe he doesn't need to shift. The Giants appear to be slowly upping Posey's workload at catcher. The talk 2010 preseason was that he was only strong enough to catch 100 games in 2010, and that is roughly what he caught between the minors and majors, I think he ended at around 105, and his batting line slumped right around that 100 game point so that was on the mark. In 2011, of course he was injured, but in 2012, he caught 112 games, then was upped to 120 games in 2013, and he felt that he was gassed at the end of this season, so one of the ToDo's that he noted at the end of the season was to improve his conditioning to be able to catch more games, so he might be moving up to 125-135 games at catcher, which would mean much less games at 1B and thus less games for Belt to either sit out or play in LF.

      It will be interesting to see how that plays out in 2014, but with the DH and past usage pattern - 143 starts in 2012, 140 starts in 2013 - suggests that the Giants will probably be shooting for 140-145 starts for Posey in 2014, and if he gets 130 starts at catcher, that would mean 10-15 starts at 1B or DH. I can see 5 starts via DH, he had 5 last season, so that means 5-10 starts at 1B. That actually works out nicely then, Belt would get 152-157 starts at 1B, won't need to start in LF at all then in this scenario.

      Of course, that means Hanchez won't be getting many starts, perhaps Bochy will start to take Posey out of games late with a lead to give him some rest, much like how he handled Bonds in his final seasons with the Giants, playing 140+ games, getting replaced late in games.

      And in this scenario, not so much need for a hitter like Pill on the bench, capable of playing only 1B and LF.

      I also get the feeling from what I've been reading that the Giants want some more experienced guys on the bench instead of unproven guys like Pill and Noonan. I hope that is not all true because I like Adrianza and he's out of options, and with Arias around, that leaves only one spot open for MI utility, unless the Giants only go one OF bench position (which is really the RH platoon half of LF Blanco platoon), which leaves three infield bench spots (along with backup catcher in Hanchez).

      Another reason I want Adrianza is because the Giants last season was not very good defensively, middle of pack, whereas before, they were more like Top 10 if not Top 5. Pagan, Scutaro, and Pence really put a drag on our defense, while improving our offense. Blanco provides a nice bump on defense if he'll be platooning in LF, and hopefully Sandoval can be as great defensively as he was in 2011. More hopefully, the goodness we see and hear on the Brandons (Belt and Crawford) start to register more in the advanced fielding metrics. Plus, hopefully Posey can progress defensively, he was looking like a great catcher in 2010 and 2011, but the injury set him back greatly, he hasn't been the same since, nor has made any progress per the metrics, though oddly enough, his dWAR improved in 2013 to best ever, so I've not been able to figure out how that happened given his DRS still being relatively OK but not great. His dWAR suggests he's very good defensively, his DRS not as much, good but not great.

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  2. Oh, I love this move, more so because we got him over the A's even though they came at him hard too and according to Baggarly was in the ballpark of the Giants, in fact, his Giants source say the Giants are not even sure they were the high bidder, as I noted above.

    Reading between the lines from I've read, as much as the Giants targeted Hudson, he seems to have targeted the Giants, which then made it a matter of getting to a price happy to each party. So he pulled a Carlos Lee and accepted the Giants offer even though a higher deal might have been there. And whereas Carlos was only looking for location, location, location, as he had a ranch nearby, Hudson was only looking for ring, ring, ring, hoping to get that ring that almost everyone on the Giants have at least one of. So the plan is finally working, attracting key pitchers to our team with our park, with our team, with our future, seemingly, with Hudson.

    Oh, and I should have noted that even should Vogelsong be signed, he will probably be the incumbent, but be battling with Petit for the last starting spot, should he re-sign with the Giants. I would think that Surkamp, Kickham, and Escobar are also in the mix as well.

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  3. Nice rundown of what was said at the presser announcing the deal: http://www.csnbayarea.com/giants/tim-hudson-it-felt-right-choose-giants-over

    The Giants were his #1 choice, and the A's came close but not good enough, as he wanted to stay in the NL, as well as pitch in AT&T, and particularly pitch deeper into the playoffs, which means that he believes that it is more likely the Giants will get there before the A's will.

    In a Chron interview, he noted that he can pitch anywhere in the rotation, don't matter if 1 or 5, he'll pitch the same, which is that of a top pitcher of the rotation.

    http://www.csnbayarea.com/giants/giants-near-agreement-lopez-prioritize-pitching-over-lf

    In other news, Lopez is pretty much a done deal, just finishing the details. The Giants are also looking for a starting pitcher, either Vogelsong or another pitcher, and then they are done with SP (meaning Vogelsong would have to come back as a reliever if that happens).

    They don't really like what is out there in free agency for LF, so once they get the SP done, they want to work on trade possibilities before the winter meetings in December, but would be happy picking up somebody to platoon with Blanco in LF.

    The big news there is that they named Escobar specifically as a pitcher who could be ready soon. That's something I've been thinking since he had that great stretch in AA after his promotion, striking out guys at the same rate even though he's at a higher level, just dominating the hitters. I think he can be ready sometime in 2014, should the need arise.

    And Tanaka hopes are pretty much done.

    ReplyDelete

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