Tim Hudson, 38, has a career record of 205-111, which includes a mark of 113-72 with a 3.56 ERA over nine seasons with the Braves. (Reuters)
ATLANTA — When Tim Hudson was felled by a gruesome ankle injury July 24 against the Mets, many observers figured the 15-year veteran had pitched his last game for the Braves. But perhaps not.
Braves general manager Frank Wren expects to discuss with Hudson, 38, the possibility of re-signing the pending free agent, whose 205-111 career record includes 113-72 with a 3.56 ERA over nine seasons with the Braves.
“I think that Huddy is a guy that we would look to talk to and see where his head is and see what he’s thinking as far as coming back,” Wren said, “and it would surprise me if we didn’t at least have some conversations with him.”
Hudson was 8-7 with a 3.97 ERA in 21 starts last season before his season-ending broken ankle and torn ligament.
The Braves would like to add a bona fide No. 1 starter, but Wren doesn’t know if that’s doable given the limited number of elite starters expected on trade or free-agent markets.
Pitching will be be among the hot topics discussed at this week’s Braves organizational meetings, along with the pending free-agent status of catcher Brian McCann and what to do with second baseman Dan Uggla, coming off his career-worst season with two years (and $26 million) left on his contract.
After going 0-3 with an 8.69 ERA in a four-start period in May, Hudson was 4-3 with a 2.73 ERA and .224 opponents’ average in his last 10 starts before his fibula was broken at the ankle when inadvertently stepped on by the Mets’ Eric Young while Hudson was covering first base on a grounder.
“I think we saw Huddy progress over the course of the season,” Wren said. “There were times early in the season where he didn’t quite seem like he was in sync, and once he started going — which unfortunately his best start of the season was that Mets start — where he really looked like the Huddy of old, we were looking forward to having that the last two months of the season.
“I think if he’s back, there’s a significant role (for him).”
Hudson made $9 million in 2013 in the option year of an extension he signed prior to the 2010 season, a contract that also had $9 million salaries in each of three guaranteed years through 2012. He had 16 or more wins in each of the first three seasons of the extension, and was 17-9 with a 2.83 ERA in 2010 in his first full season after returning from Tommy John elbow surgery.
He went 16-8 with a 3.62 ERA in 28 starts in 2012, after missing the first month of the season recovering from lumbar spinal fusion surgery.
The Alabama native and former Auburn standout has said numerous times that he would like to finish his career with the Braves, but Hudson noted during the season that he didn’t know if that would be possible because they had so many young pitchers on the staff and others coming up in the organization.
As things currently stand, the Braves would have returning starters Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran, Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy, who is expected to fully recovered from September arthroscopic elbow surgery, which the Braves termed a “cleaning out” procedure following Beachy’s Tommy John surgery in June 2012.
Wren said they also plan to have hard-throwing left-hander Alex Wood stretched out as a starter in the spring, after he impressed both as a starter and reliever in his half-season with the Braves as a rookie. And the Braves have other prospects including rookie David Hale, who was outstanding in two late-season starts.
Nevertheless, Wren believes there could be a spot for Hudson, who provides leadership and experience for a young staff.
“Young pitchers, there’s going to be times where you’re going to have ups and downs,” Wren said. “We’ve experienced it with all of the guys that are in our current rotation, whether it’s Minor, Medlen, Teheran. Alex Wood. There have been ups and downs. You’re going to need more than five, and you’re going to need to create depth.
“If we make that decision to bring him back, I think there’s no reason why he wouldn’t fit. And it really goes back to what I said earlier. There’s lots of ups and downs with pitchers getting over the hump at the big-league level, so having the depth and the wisdom of a veteran pitcher like Huddy helps in that process.”