Knee-jerk reaction: A's lose the Tim Hudson sweepstakes
As a die-hard A's fan it hurt seeing Bay Area Sports Guy report on Twitter that former A's ace Tim Hudson was signing with the cross-bay rival Giants. But it was agony seeing ESPN's Buster Olney report that the A's came in second in the race to sign Hudson.
So there you have it, one of my all-time favorite A's is taking his beautiful bald dome, cool looking stinger and gritty, groundball-inducing nastiness across the bay to make a run at a World Series title in orange and black with Oakland's local rival.
From a totally objective baseball standpoint, it's a solid move for the Giants and Hudson. $23 million for a good veteran starting pitcher is perfectly reasonable for a filthy-rich team in win-now mode like the Giants. And it's a sensible decision by Hudson to go with a team he thinks is on the verge of being a World Series contender again. He's familiar with the Bay Area, the Giants play in a gorgeous pitcher's ballpark in front of big crowds and he knows the team's owners will shell out the money to win.
If you read "Aces" by Mychael Urban, you know Hudson was none too happy with the A's owners always opting to sit on their wallet instead of shelling out enough cash to keep those great Oakland teams together and really make a run at a championship. Nothing's really changed since Hudson was traded from Oakland to Atlanta in 2004.
I'm sure Hudson's relationship with A's general manager Billy Beane, sentimental feelings for playing in Oakland and the fact that his former franchise is a very strong playoff contender kept the A's in the picture until the end. But in the end, I don't think it was a very hard decision for Hudson to go to San Francisco.
In my head, it's A-OK that Huddy's heading across the bay. If I was Hudson, that's where I'd go too and it's arguably a no-brainer. Good move for everyone involved.
But in my heart it hurts. Let's face it, my first-born son's middle name is Hudson so how do you think I feel about Tim Hudson's A's career? Of course, a big reason my son's middle name is Hudson is that my wife shot down my suggestion of Tejada.
I won't lie, I was hoping the A's would sign Hudson this winter even though I knew it was a longshot proposition. So close, yet so far away. That's how it feels in almost every single Game 5 ALDS loss and that's how it feels right now with losing the Tim Hudson sweepstakes.
Did the A's need Hudson to win in 2014? No. Heck, I don't even think they need Bartolo Colon to win in 2014. But it sure would be nice to have a solid veteran toward the top of the rotation and it would have been awesome to have a fan favorite like Hudson end his career where it started while making a run at some October glory.
I'll say this right now: A's fans better not boo Huddy when he comes back to town to pitch for the Giants during interleague play. Aside from booing Jason Giambi right after he left for the Yankees I've never understood why so many Oakland fans boo former A's. The A's don't pay anyone to stick around very long so it doesn't make any sense to give a player a hard time for moving on with his career.
But outside of my emotional reaction to Hudson choosing the Giants over the A's, the development may shed a little light on what the A's are willing and able to do this offseason. As always, this is all just pure speculation on my part. And as always, I'll probably be way off the mark by the time everything is said and done. I have a horrible knack for that but it never stops me from guessing what's on the horizon for the A's.
Next year the A's are going to pay Nick Punto $3 million to be a utility infielder which is exactly what they paid Bartolo Colon to be a No. 1 starter last year. It was a solid gamble by general manager Billy Beane with an amazing payoff. But Colon isn't coming back to town for that kind of cash and any respectable veteran starting pitcher and his agent are going be looking for Tim Hudson money now that he's set the market. At this point, a decent veteran starter may come with a $7 to $10 million price tag.
Let's assume that the A's were in the neighborhood of the Giants' offer to Hudson and they put about $20 million on the table for 2 years. You have to figure Colon and his representatives know that if the A's just barely lost out on Hudson that they're willing to shell out about $10 million toward next year's payroll for the right player/s. The only question is how much of that money would the A's be willing to shell out on Colon.
Oakland passed on giving Colon a $14 million qualifying offer so you have to assume that the maximum they're willing to hand him is somewhat less that what they were willing to throw at Hudson, which is understandable based on Timmy's advantage over Coloin in age, fitness and pitching repertoire.
From the outside looking in, it seems like the A's could use a veteran starting pitcher to add some depth to the rotation and they could use a reliever since there's going to be a hole in the bullpen when Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook and Dan Otero all move up an inning to replace close Grant Balfour. A right-handed hitter wouldn't be a terrible edition either but I'm not holding out any hope that someone like Nelson Cruz is coming to town anytime soon and I'm not particularly excited at the thought of him in green and gold anyway.
Which leads us back to the A's possibly shopping for some arms for the rotation and bullpen. Can around $10 million get you those pieces for your roster? The relief pitcher market hasn't started to form yet but I'm willing to bet $10 million can fill a spot in the rotation and bullpen for Oakland if some of the players they're targeting fall into their price range.
The market's still playing itself out, so it remains to be seen whether the A's could sign a veteran starting pitcher and reliever for around $10 million. And even if they could, there's no guarantee that Beane and Co. would want to tie up that kind of money in whatever talent is willing to come to town as free agency's lucrative game of musical chairs plays out. Ultimately, the A's may just take the money they were willing to spend on Hudson and stand pat for now. Cash like that can come in very handy at the trade deadline.
It's a punch in the gut to see that the A's just barely missed out on bringing Hudson back to Oakland and it's going to stink seeing him in a Giants uniform. But it's encouraging and intriguing to see that they're willing to crack their wallet open this offseason if the right opportunity comes along.
There's never a dull moment in Oakland.
Jason Leary can be reached at email@example.com and can be found at junkball.wordpress.com and followed on Twitter @junkballblogger.