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Tim Hudson Heads Back to the Bay; Do I Draft Him?

Thanks to Barry Zito, you would think that Brian Sabean and anyone one else within the San Francisco Giants’ upper management inner-circle would be scarred for life from fishing in the pond that houses the beloved Oakland Big Three from the early 2000’s. But lo and behold, they go back to the well and this time come away with right-hander Tim Hudson on a two-year deal worth $23M. While I would love to sit here and debate the merits of the deal with both the lovers and the haters of this signing, that ship has sailed already when Dave Cameron reported on the move back in mid-November. Feel free to skim through the comments section as there are certainly a few doozies in there. But since this is RotoGraphs, we’re going to talk about the fantasy aspect. You know, things like where Hudson will go in drafts and what kind of  return value should you expect.

Obviously, Hudson’s performance, both expected and actual, plays a very important role. As Cameron pointed out, aside from the ankle injury, there wasn’t a whole lot different about him over the last few years. He’s a low-strikeout, ground ball guy whose numbers all seem to coincide with his career averages, for the most part. The uptick in strikeouts is slightly encouraging though certainly not something I’m banking on when I draft him. What I’m looking for is a nice, stable set of numbers. Yes, some added strikeouts would be nice, but I’m looking more for some solid ratios — a solid sub-4.00 ERA with a WHIP of 1.20 or better. AT&T Park and Turner Field play relatively the same with both lending an advantage to the pitcher, so that shouldn’t really factor in as much as it would if he were going to say, Arizona. He’ll also get his fair share of wins too, and anything really above 10 would have me elated. If I get exactly what I’m looking for, I’m going to be a winner here; especially when you consider where he’ll go in your draft.

Now I’ve already done four mock drafts over the last two and a half weeks (I know…sheer joy. I’m very much over the football season) and in the two where we only went 23 rounds, Hudson went undrafted. In the two drafts that went 30 rounds, he went in the 28th round in one and in the 30th in the other. Both picks came from me. Why? Am I that big a believer in Hudson? I don’t know. Maybe. If you believe that he will hit his career averages more often than not, then as a late-late-round flier, there’s really no risk involved. He’ll either sit on my bench for a start or two before I figure out whether or not he’s worth starting or, if I do start him from the get-go and he fails, then I haven’t done too much damage to my numbers, assuming that it’s a roto league and not head to head. A few starts from some other decent hurlers and those numbers are a non-factor a month or two down the road.

But should Hudson succeed, and should Hudson provide me with numbers right around his career averages (close to, maybe slightly worse given age and injury), something I believe he is capable of doing, then I’m coming out way ahead. He’ll be providing me with 14th or 15th round value for the cost of nothing. I could feed a starving child in Africa and have change left over for what Hudson will cost me in a fantasy draft this year. So when you’re sitting there at the tail-end of your draft and deciding whether or not you should take a flier on some veteran on the comeback trail who may be able to help you now or some unproven, hyped-up kid in Double-A who may or may not get a call-up later in the year, grab Hudson. You’ve really got nothing to lose.