The last remaining Braves from the 2005 campaign, the final year of the 14 straight division title run for the organization, Tim Hudson (20.5 fWAR in Atlanta, 3.56 ERA) and Brian McCann (29.4 fWAR in Atlanta, .277/.350/.473, 117 wRC+) reached free agency Tuesday morning, and reports from national baseball reports indicated that both had been contacted by over 1/3 of the MLB teams for contract negotiations. All we currently know for sure is that the Braves offered Brian a $14.1 million qualifying offer, which he will decline, due to the interest he’s received for a longer deal.
The New York Daily News reported that McCann’s agent, B.B. Abbott says that McCann would be willing to play in New York for the Yankees, though he wouldn’t share if they had been in contact with the Yankees organization. Given the need that they have at catcher, and possibly for more star power, this move makes sense for the Yankees. Tim Hudson is on the radar of both the Royals (they love ex-Braves) and the Cleveland Indians, with both teams possibly willing to offer Tim multiple years; the Braves were said to have offered Tim a 1 year, reduced rate deal. If the Yankees, as well as the Red Sox (who are losing Saltalamacchia), Rangers (who have made many attempts to acquire Brian in the past), or the San Francisco Giants (who have been rumored to have interest) make Brian a serious offer, he’s gone from Atlanta. In fact, I think he’s already gone, due to Bethancourt’s progress in 2013. The Braves don’t feel pressured to have to keep an aging offensive catcher, because they have viable replacements for him.
With regards to Hudson, the Braves seem determined to try to acquire an “ace” this winter, or at least a younger, better option than Tim Hudson. While it’s not for certain that he will be gone, the team seems willing to move on from “the Bulldog”. I think the Braves are likely to lose Hudson this winter, due to either waiting too long to make Tim a serious offer that competes with what he will get on the open market, or because they will acquire another pitcher, making resigning Hudson a moot point. While it is sad that their times in Atlanta likely will end without us winning a world series (especially for McCann), it is time for us to move on from both. Bethancourt and Gattis are ready in my opinion to take over at catcher, and at catcher, my favorite pitcher in our system, Alex Wood is ready to join the rotation full-time along with Minor, Teheran, Medlen, and Beachy or Hale… there simply isn’t room for Hudson, who is about to turn 38, and has been in decline the last 3 years, even before the gruesome ankle injury. Wood has too much upside to take him out of the rotation for Hudson, not even Tim is a viable starting option next year.
It will hurt to see the 2014 Opening Day lineup for the first time not include those long-term Braves, but as I’ve always said, love the team over the players. I will still be a Braves fan, and will continue to root for McCann and Hudson wherever they end up.