Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Castillo Situation, Part 2: Orlando Hudson's Price

According to MLB.com, Orlando Hudson is REALLY having a hard time finding someone who will pay him what he believes he is worth:

Since becoming a free agent, Hudson has asked for $9 million, but the Nationals are not willing to give him that kind of money.

This past season, Hudson, 32, made a base salary of $3.38 million, but with incentives, he received close to $7 million as a member of the Dodgers.

According to a published report, the Nationals have offered Hudson $3 million, with incentives that could bring the value of the contract to $4 million.
Wow. Sorry about that O-Dog.

Anyway, at a price that low, do the Mets begin to make sense as a Hudson destination again? Let's say for the sake of argument that one year for $4 million with incentives is the best that Hudson can do. (Though I highly doubt that would be the case).

According to fangraphs, Hudson has been worth between $8.9 and $13.4 million per year over the last four years with the Diamondbacks and Dodgers. Much of that value has stemmed from the fact that he is an adequate defensive second baseman - something which is apparently hard to find in a guy who can also hit a little.[1]

If you believe in the fangraphs numbers (and I generally do) then Hudson is going to be underpaid relative to what free agents typically earn by somewhere between $5 and $8 million dollars - making him an incredible bargain.

From a purely financial perspective, the Mets should sign Hudson at that price, even in the face of Luis Castillo's presence on the team. However, as we pointed out yesterday:

By [benching Castillo], we would be taking the ONE valuable thing about Castillo and completely negating it. His only value right now comes from being a second baseman and playing every day.

He's not a good defensive replacement. He would be an awful pinch hitter. He'd be an expensive waste of a roster spot - and that's not even mentioning how LITTLE of an upgrade Hudson would be over Castillo.

So what do we do with Castillo? My suggestion would be to trade him for ANYTHING of value. If nobody is willing to take him, offer to trade him for nothing. If not even that, offer to pay some of his contract. As we have also mentioned ad nauseum here, Castillo has some value of his own:

Castillo, who looked rejuvenated last year, is coming off a season where he hit .302/.387/.346 and stole 20 bases . . . According to fangraphs, he was worth approximately $7 million last year . . . CHONE projects him to post a .367 OBP next season, while Marcel is at .360 and the fans at fangraphs are very optimistic at .375. He was worth 1.6 wins-above-replacement last season. If he can duplicate last year, he'll be worth around the same. He is an asset.

I am sure that we can find a taker for Castillo. Even if, worse case scenario, we had to pay $3 of the $6 million on his contract each year, we'd still be looking at a NET positive on that transaction. How? By paying Hudson $5 million to $7 million less than he's worth.

In addition, Hudson may be had on a one year deal. That would be perfect, especially considering Fonzie Forever favorite Reese Havens may be ready some time in 2011.

So at the price floated above - a measely $3 to $4 million to play for the Nationals - the Mets could and should be in on Hudson.


[1] How good is that defense? According to the Fielding Bible, Hudson was been the fourth best defensive second baseman between 2006 and 2008. It has been declining in recent years, as you would expect for a 32-year-old second baseman, but it is unlikely to decline precipitously this year.

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