Should the Braves Pick Up Tim Hudson’s Option?

Like all Braves fans, I was happy to see Tim Hudson make his return to the mound for the Braves last night. This led me to wonder whether or not the Braves will pick up Hudson’s option for next season. If the Braves decide to keep Hudson, they will have to pay him $12 million; if they decline, they must pay him $1 million. Therefore, the cost of hiring Hudson for the 2010 season is $11 million—$1 million is a sunk cost and therefore not relevant. If Huddy’s value is close to this figure, then it may be a worthwhile investment.

Valuing Hudson is a bit difficult, because of his recent past performance. He pitched well in 2007, but his 2006 and 2008 seasons weren’t as good—the latter season was marred by injury. Let’s just assume that 2007 was Hudson’s true-talent level. Given aging and league salary growth, I project Hudson will be worth $11.25 million in 2010. The Braves having an above-average team pushes this value upward a bit, but slower-than-normal revenue growth would lower the value. In addition, injury recovery isn’t guaranteed, which makes him riskier than I have assumed in this analysis.

By the rosiest of scenarios, Hudson will be worth the option. Given the dearth of pitching already owned by the Braves, and the possibility of a weak free-agent market (Update: by weak, I mean talent will be cheaper than usual, not weak in talent), I suspect that the Braves will pass on Hudson’s option.

Postscript: The salary estimates presented in this post—and from now on—are derived from an updated methodology that differs from estimates that I previously presented before my blogging hiatus. The underlying marginal revenue product framework is the same, but the calculations have changed significantly following updated analysis. I shall be presenting this new method in the future.

8 Responses “Should the Braves Pick Up Tim Hudson’s Option?”

  1. Millsy says:

    Thanks for the analysis, JC. Hudson’s one of my favorite pitchers. I hope the Braves pass him up and the Orioles can get him relatively cheap. Glad to have you back.

  2. Boston/Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves fan since "47" says:

    I have followed the Braves since I was 2 (Braves Field, Boston, MA). I just went to Philly with the Grandkids and saw the 9 to 1 Blowout. My feeling is the Braves should keep Huddy and possibly add a year or 2 to the contract. As good a pitcher as Vasquez is, he has always been hounded by the 1 bad inning per game syndrome and that is why he is a .500 pitcher. Huddy on the other hand has a great won/loss percentage. Vasques’s value should be extremely high in the off season and if all goes well with Huddy, he would be the one I would let go.

    signed: The wrong Team left Boston!!!!!!

  3. Anderson says:

    I’d pick up the option and see what kind of market develops for Vazquez. As you stated it’s not a great year for teams looking to pick up a pitcher via free agency so why not trade the guy with the highest upside but is least likely to repeat his performance?

  4. scott says:

    What if the Braves decline his option (the 1 million dollar buyout), but resign him to a cheaper 1 year deal? Is this an option or would the players association go nuts?

  5. Boston/Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves fan since "47" says:

    The ass ociation would probably go bonkers, but who cares? The problem would be why would Hudson do that? He’s still relatively young and if he’s good in Sept. and hopefully the post season, he will command more money the the 12 mil.

  6. Boston/Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves fan since "47" says:

    Here goes Vasquez again. Another mid game 1 inning meltdown. Who would you rather keep? Huddy gets my vote again.

  7. cliff says:

    The option is, I believe, a mutual option. So, Hudson could say, “No, I would rather take a hike.” The question then is can he get a 3 or so year deal for equal or better per year money.

    I have speculated for a while that one way or the other, Hudson would not be back in ATL next year. (if thes lateseason is bad, do Braves risk it? If this late season is a spectacular run, why wouldn’t Hudson want long term which the Braves wouldn’t do).

    I disagree with the “dearth of pitching already owned by the Braves.” If you drop April, Kenshin will project to exceed his value, we have Lowe who will at least be mediocre (even if the contract is a little bit of an albatross). We have Vazquez for 1 more year. We have JJ. We have Hanson. We have Medlen. And, we have Jo Jo Reyes (who may be worthless, but may still be as good as an upper division club 4 or 5). And, that is just starters or possible starters AAA and higher. And, even with the disappointing years, there are probably a couple of 3′s or better 1 to 2 years further out.

    Braves should have put Lowe on waivers (may have?) and let his contract move if somebody wanted to take it. Then, put the 4 million difference with Hudson toward another need and pick up the option. Then you have 5 proven starting pitchers of #3 or higher, backed up by (in order) Medlen, Reyes, Richmond, and Parr. I don’t know if anybody else has that stacked of a pitching situation.

  8. Rick says:

    It’s not a mutual option, but if the Braves do pick up his option Hudson can void it and forfeit the $1mm buyout. IMO, not a bright thing to do coming off major surgery with only a few games to showcase his arm.

    Jarrod Washburn also has a great W-L% since getting traded. perhaps the Braves should try for him next year.