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Colletti’s Answer Is Under His Nose

Los Angeles Dodgers GM Ned Colletti discussed some of his offseason priorities on the Dan Patrick show on Thursday (which can be heard here). Colletti discussed, among other things, addressing second base with offseason moves. After all, it is hardly surprising that any team starting Ron Belliard at 2B in the playoffs would look to improve at that position.

The free agent market at 2B is pretty bare. R.J. already discussed Felipe Lopez, who is a type A free agent who just completed a career year at age 30. Placido Polanco will be the only other type A free agent to hit the market, assuming San Francisco picks up Freddy Sanchez‘s option. Akinori Iwamura is another interesting option. Iwamura is coming off of injury and his 4.25M option will likely be too expensive for the Rays to exercise, especially given Ben Zobrist‘s rise.

Iwamura’s skills play as those of an average 2B, or a rough 2.25 win player. There is one other free agent who won’t cost the Dodgers any draft picks and plays at or above that level. That player, Orlando Hudson, was on the Dodgers roster this season. His one-year, incentive-laden contract expired, leaving him again in the undesirable position of a type-A free agent in a declining market. Hudson’s contract incentives earned him just under $8M overall. As a 3 win player, that’s roughly $4 million in surplus value.

Hudson is 32, but his type A status will allow the Dodgers to make a move for a team-favorable one-year deal. His .342 wOBA was his worst since 2005, but with park adjustment, his offensive contribution equaled his contribution in 2008, when he had a .358 wOBA with Arizona. His fielding in recent years doesn’t stand up to his time with the Blue Jays (+27 UZR in four years), and has slipped below average in recent years. Still, his hitting well outweighs any defensive shortcomings. He hasn’t been below 2 WAR since 2003. He gives you consistency at the plate and in the field, and most importantly, the Dodgers are in an excellent position to bargain with Hudson.

Unless the Dodgers are willing to give away draft picks and sign Placido Polanco or take a chance on a 30-year-old average player coming off injury in the form of Akinori Iwamura, there is really only one option for Los Angeles. Re-sign Orlando Hudson, and maybe play him this time if they make it back to the postseason.