Ah, the reclamation project! There is nothing quite like a player who, for whatever reason, may be an undervalued asset, especially to a smaller market club. Certain teams seem to have a knack for being able to locate those players; just look at how the Tampa Bay Rays have seemingly plucked relievers from the scrap heap and turned them into viable closers. Yet, it is not just the Rays that have had success with those types of pitchers – just look at how Ervin Santana performed last year for the Royals.
Now, with teams non-tendering arbitration eligible players, there is a pitcher who may be the perfect reclamation project for the Royals. Although he has not pitched since June 26, 2012 and has undergone two Tommy John surgeries, Daniel Hudson may be the type of pitcher that would be worth taking a chance on.
Before being non-tendered by the Diamondbacks, Hudson showed flashes of potentially being a second or third starter. In his one full season in Arizona in 2011, he was only 16-12, but put together a 3.49 ERA with a 3.38 K/BB rate. Overall in parts of four seasons, Hudson has a 28-17 record with a 3.68 ERA, numbers that were relatively solid for a pitcher who was only in his mid 20′s when he was injured a second time.
Although undergoing Tommy John surgery is not a guarantee for improvement – just look at John Lamb – most pitchers come back just as good, if not better, then they had been before. Should Daniel Hudson remain in the majority, he could fill out the Royals rotation nicely. Add in his relative youth, and there is still a chance that Hudson can become the type of pitcher he was envisioned to be.
Given that Hudson is expected to be out for most of the 2014 season as well as he tore his UCL again during a rehab start in 2013, he is not likely to cost much on the open market. Chances are, a two year contract with a team option for a third year could be the type of contract that Hudson would would attract. For a pitcher who has had the success that Hudson has had in the past, such a deal could turn out to be a bargain.
Daniel Hudson may not help in 2014, but he could be a factor and a solid piece in a rotation in 2015 and beyond. Considering how little he is likely to cost, Hudson may be a gamble that the Royals could take.