By Jason Wojciechowski on December 5, 2004 at 7:43 PM
Tim Hudson is, of course, the next big free agent for the A's. With the recent announcement that contract extension talks aren't going to proceed after March 1, a lot of fans, including some posting comments on this thread at Baysball, are making what seem to me to be outlandish statements like, "I hope Beane can fit him in at $12 million per!" and "Sign him or trade him, but don't let him walk."
Have we been paying attention to how the A's operate? If this crazy rumored deal with the Braves that would send Marcus Giles and Jose Capellan to the A's for Hudson were for real, you'd have to think Beane would jump all over it. While the poster who calls Giles the best hitting second baseman in the game is a little bit overzealous, Giles is a very good hitter at a position where the A's will probably only get average production at best next year out of Mark Ellis.
What's more likely is that, just like with Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada, Hudson will take his 30-year old (yes, he'll be that old already) self to some other team and the A's will thank him for his six and a half years of excellent pitching, take the draft picks, and move on with Joe Blanton or whoever the next big thing is. Hudson's age is a key indicator here. He still tends to be referred to as a "young starter," but that's really only true compared to Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. Hudson's not old by any means, but, again, remember that he's coming into his age 29 season in 2005. Is he all of a sudden going to turn into a pumpkin? Unlikely. But do the A's want to be paying him $12 million when he's 34? Also unlikely.
The Eric Chavez signing seems to have raised the hopes of a lot of fans that the A's will suddenly start resigning all their players. What they don't seem to realize is that Chavez is a special case, a player who, because he reached the majors so early, would have been a free agent after his age 26 season. Thus the six-year contract he signed carries him only through his age 32 year. The three aces that are coming to free agency in the next few years were brought up on a timetable that would (purposely) not let them be free agents until their late 20's. It isn't just grooming your own talent that makes a team successful, it's holding on to that talent through their most valuable seasons, and not a minute longer.