Hudson signing a great deal for Dodgers

February, 20, 2009
The Dodgers' signing of Orlando Hudson is easily one of the biggest bargains of the offseason. He's a very good offensive second baseman who in the past was also a plus fielder. Hudson's defense has slipped in the past two years, particularly in 2008, and it's unclear whether his range has been limited by the leg problems he's had in that time or whether he's simply showing his age and the early decline experienced by many second basemen. His tremendous range on popups makes up for his average range on ground balls, and he'll be an improvement over incumbent Blake DeWitt offensively and defensively.

Dewitt, of course, can play third, and there's a good chance that he'll outproduce newly overpaid third baseman Casey Blake in 2009 if given the chance. Blake's three-year contract extension makes it unlikely, but the Dodgers' best alignment would have Blake in a utility role, spelling either Dewitt or Hudson when a lefty is on the mound.

The major drawback for the Dodgers in the Hudson signing is the loss of their first-round pick, 17th overall, a point in the draft when there are still some prospects on the board who will turn into stars or well above-average big leaguers. (To pick one draft at random, in 2003, the following players were still available at No. 17 and went in the next 20 picks: Carlos Quentin, Conor Jackson, Adam Jones and current Dodger Chad Billingsley.) The Dodgers' farm system is already thin after years of promotions to the majors, and now they won't have a pick until somewhere in the sandwich round between the first and second rounds.

The big question here is where the Mets were in all of this. They have an expensive sieve -- no, black hole -- at second base in Luis Castillo, and Hudson would be an easy upgrade of almost two wins. The Mets already surrendered their first draft pick to sign Francisco Rodriguez, so they would have lost only their second-round pick, 69th overall, if they'd signed Hudson. Topping the contract the Dodgers gave him should have been easy for a team moving into a new stadium. The Mets haven't increased their payroll despite the imminent revenue increase from Citi Field (or Boondoggle Park), and in this instance they missed a chance to improve their odds of reaching the playoffs over a relatively meager amount of money. Their loss is the Dodgers' gain.

Keith Law

ESPN Senior Writer


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