Two weeks ago it appeared Tim Hudson was on his way to the land of free agents; however, Ken Rosenthal is now reporting that the 34-year-old has agreed in principle to a three-year extension worth roughly nine million per season. The deal makes sense for both sides. Hudson is a well-established pitcher capable of producing the 2 WAR necessary to make this deal worthwhile on an annual basis, yet injury concerns required Hudson to value security higher than a higher potential payout.
During his last healthy season, Hudson was worth 5.3 WAR. It’s unreasonable to expect him to return and duplicate a season that good, but barring unforeseen setback or re-injury, the Braves have hitched their wagon to Hudson as one of their five opening day starters. Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson figure to be in the same boat. That leaves Kenshin Kawakami, Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez, and Jo-Jo Reyes battling it out for the final two rotation spots. Unless I’m missing something [I was, Reyes has one option remaining]. hat leaves the three starters who only joined the Braves last winter.
Lowe has three years and $45M remaining on his deal; Vazquez is in the final year of his contract worth $11.5M; Kawakami has an additional two seasons of $6.7M per left. That disparity probably keeps Kawakami in Atlanta, meaning it’s a battle of Lowe and Vazquez. Over the last three seasons Vazquez has posted xFIP of 2.89, 3.96, and 3.85; Lowe of 4.18, 3.43, and 3.50. Both had seasons uncharacteristic of previous years in 2009. Those numbers are not adjusted for league difficulty, Lowe has not been nearly a half run per nine innings better than Vazquez over 2007 and 2008.
There are cases to be made for trading either, but what it really comes down to is whether the Braves soured on Lowe (and sweetened on Vazquez) within a span of 12 months.