Hudson hopes to stay with Braves
Veteran would rather sign extension than test free agency
LOS ANGELES -- Tim Hudson has been baffled by some of the recent reports regarding his future.
While understanding there's a chance that he may have to test the free agent market, Hudson's mindset hasn't changed since the first time he made it known that his primary desire was to agree upon a contract extension that would allow him to remain with the Braves.
"First and foremost, Atlanta is a place where I'm happy, and I believe we have a chance to have a really good team there for a while," Hudson said. "I haven't talked to [Braves general manager Frank Wren] yet. But when that time comes, hopefully we can get something done."
Wren, manager Bobby Cox and many of the organization's other top decision makers are currently holding their organizational meetings at the club's Spring Training site in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. One of the primary topics of discussion will be how to best address the club's surplus of starting pitchers.
Thoughts of trading Javier Vazquez dwindled as he proved that he could certainly team with Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens to be front-line starters in Atlanta beyond the completion of his current contract, which expires at the end of the 2010 season.
More recently, there has been talk that the Braves will at least attempt to move Derek Lowe, whose trade value is decreased by the fact that he is owed $45 million over the next three seasons.
There hasn't been any speculation that the Braves could move Kenshin Kawakami, who is owed $13.3 million over the next two seasons.
Given that Hudson has a $12 million option that includes a $1 million buyout for the 2010 season, he stands as the easiest piece to move out of the group of six legitimate Major League starters that the Braves possess.
But Wren has made it known that he wants to bring Hudson back, and the 34-year-old right-handed pitcher has remained optimistic that he and the Braves will be able to agree upon a contract extension that would include an average annual salary lower than $12 million.
"We haven't even talked about what would happen if they want to pick up the option," Hudson said. "Truthfully, I've never even thought that the option was an option. I'd rather have an extension than an option. Now, if their idea of a hometown discount is a lot different than my idea of a hometown discount, then yeah, I'd have to see what's out there for me from the free-agent perspective."
Looking at his status from a realistic perspective, Hudson understands that he'll likely be among the many Major Leaguers who file for free agency when the World Series concludes. But he's still hopeful this will simply be a procedural move that would protect him in the event that an extension isn't agreed upon.
Hudson, who will turn 35 in July next year, went 2-1 with a 3.61 ERA in the seven starts he made after returning from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery. While his age and recent health history might play a part, he could still find some strong attention from pitching-hungry clubs that are looking at a free-agent class of pitchers headed by John Lackey and Rich Harden.
"If we can't get a deal done, I think potentially it could be a good offseason for me from the free-agent side," Hudson said. "But I'm hoping it doesn't it come to that."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.