Dodgers Sign Daniel Hudson and History Suggests it was Smart
By Jacob Rudner
After a quiet offseason and a slow start to the regular season, the Dodgers saw it fit to make a move. They made a couple minor league trades but, most interestingly, they signed 31-year old right-handed pitcher, Daniel Hudson, to a minor league deal. The addition of Hudson, as of now, is nothing more than depth, but if history is to repeat itself, this move is a huge one.
Hudson comes from a mixed background of starting and relieving. He debuted as a 22-year old starting pitcher with the Chicago White Sox in 2009 and did not play much that year outside of his debut. Hudson appeared six times in the 2009 season and just two of those were as a starter.
The following year, 2010, Hudson got off to an incredibly rocky start going 1-1 in three starts with an ERA over six. His rough start resulted in a trade that saw Hudson shipped to the Diamondbacks. There, in Arizona, the young pitcher’s career changed for the better.
In 2011, Hudson made 33 starts with an ERA of 3.49 and an ERA+ of 113. He was a productive pitcher on the hill and a serviceable player at the plate as he won a silver slugger. Things looked good for Hudson who was just 24 at the time but yet again, Hudson’s inconsistencies caught up with him.
2012 was a struggle on the field and a disaster off the field. Hudson got hurt, a torn UCL, and it resulted in Tommy John Surgery. He missed the majority of the 2012 season and halfway through his rehab in 2013, Hudson re-tore the ligament that was just surgically repaired resulting in his second Tommy John Surgery in two years.
2014 marked his first appearance on a big league field in two years and they were not great. He lasted just three relief appearances and they were not good. In 2015 though, the former starter turned reliever reinvented his delivery and more importantly, himself.
From 2015 to 2016, Hudson pitched in a combined total of 134 games. His ERA+ hovered around the mark of average production at 96 and he even notched nine saves in that stretch. Daniel Hudson was ready yet again to make a splash as a pitcher.
In the offseason of 2016, Hudson was a free agent and his effectiveness as a reliever garnered him a 2-year $11 million contract with the Pirates. And, after signing a nice deal, Hudson got the job done. He pitched in 71 games, ranking him eighth in all of baseball in games played. He kept
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his ERA+ close to the league average mark of 100, at 99, his best in two seasons and things were looking good for the 30-year old.
That all brings us to this past offseason. The Pirates were unloading contracts and Hudson was a victim of that process as he was sent to the Rays on February 22. But, just a month later, the Rays released Hudson where he spent just six days on the open market. On April 4, the Dodgers signed him to a minor league deal.
Now, back that part about history. Last offseason, the Dodgers signed Brandon Morrow to be a minor league, backup arm in case of an emergency. His opt-clause got him to the majors in mid-May and from there out, Morrow was the Dodgers best relief pitcher. Hudson could work in much of the same way. At 31, Hudson, like Morrow, has an opt-out should he not get called up. If Hudson is successful in the minors, this opt-out could force the Dodgers to add him to the major league roster.
Hudson, similar to Morrow, throws his fastball in the mid to upper 90s and he uses that pitch almost 60 percent of the time. He also mixes in a changeup and a slider to get his outs and works successfully as a strikeout and groundball pitcher.
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If Dodger fans were to have learned anything from last year, the front office knows a good project pitcher when they see one. They did it with Morrow in 2017 and Daniel Hudson has the opportunity to provide the same service Morrow did in 2018. Watch out, because history tends to repeat itself.