January 15, 2010


The Washington Nationals flirtation with 2B Orlando Hudson has none of the glacial majesty of the Mets pursuit of Bengie Molina, though if you consider that it arguably began more than a year ago it may qualify for the longest free agent courtship in MLB history. The quasi-public negotiations have hit all the classic marks:

  1. Nats suggest that their obvious second base vacancy could be filled by Cristian Guzman;
  2. Hudson expresses guarded interest;
  3. A 2-year offer at a "reasonable" rate is rumored;
  4. Ridiculously inflated salary demands ($9M/yr) are leaked by one side or the other;
  5. Nats respond, "Hey, look over there at Adam Kennedy!";
  6. Tony Plush escalates his O-Dawg lobbying campaign;
  7. Mutual interest is reiterated and deadlines are hinted at.
The deal may or may not get done, but the consensus seems to be that Hudson represents the "best" remaining free agent option for the Nats, so it's worth taking a look at the guy. At 32 years old Orlando's value is pretty well established. He's an above-average offensive second baseman, but Hudson's slick-fielding days are behind him. He was below average by most metrics in 2008 and 2009 and hasn't been truly great since his last season as a Blue Jay in '05.

Hudson's acquisition would push Guzman back to shortstop, where believe it or not he's basically an average defender when he's healthy, but a Guzman-Hudson-Dunn infield would leave newly-minted Gold Glover Ryan Zimmerman with a lot of ground to cover, and Nats fans should probably prepare themselves for a summer of bloops up the middle and bleeders into short right field. That said, that defensive infield could certainly be better than the Dunn-Guzman-Desmond alternative, and having Hudson on board would give Jim Riggleman and Mike Rizzo both security and flexibility.

As to the question of what sort of contract Hudson deserves, his reported demands aren't actually too far off his projected value. Orlando's consistently been worth 2-3 wins above replacement for the last 5 seasons and there's no particular reason to expect him to hit the wall in 2010. A $9M contract would pay between $3-4.5M per win, a fair value. Of course, Hudson's almost certainly not going to get $9M (certainly not from the Nats), even in a heavily incentivized deal, so it's fair to expect some value from whatever offer he does accept.

The rumored second year? Guzman is likely gone when his contract is up. (*sob*) The organization's middle infield talent pipeline is pretty well empty until you get to Danny Espinosa and Jeff Kobernus in the low minors, well... someone's got to play second in 2011. Like the second year of the Jason Marquis deal, who exactly would the O-Dawg be blocking?


Hendo said...

If Jeff Kobernus is the Nats' hope, they may be in trouble. He went down with an injury for short-A Vermont in mid-July and seems not to have been heard from since (although one hopes that's a PR oversight on the Nats' part).

Nate said...

My hope is that when Kobernus suffered something more serious than a hangnail in short season ball the Nats shut him down completely out of an abundance of caution. If he doesn't show up on the Opening Day roster in Hagerstown or Potomac, then I'll be worried. Not that I would have expected to see him before 2011-12 anyway.

Moral of the story: send middle infield depth!

GM-Carson said...

Here is a collection of some signs around the DC metro area encouraging the Nationals on their upcoming season.

Link- http://morehardball.blogspot.com/2010/01/national-holiday.html

We'd appreciate the plug, and will return the favor.