Twins "In the Mix" for Orlando Hudson

This according to the Free Press.

Primarily the short article discusses Detroit's interest in the free agent second baseman, but indeed, are the Twins "in the mix"?  They've been tied to Hudson once that I can remember this off-season, although there's been nothing concrete from any source.

Just having turned 32 in the middle of December, Orlando Hudson is one of the biggest commodities left on the market.  He chilled at the end of the Dodgers' '09 campaign, eventually losing starts to Ronnie Belliard, but he still managed a respectable .283/.357/.417 line in 149 games and 631 plate appearances.

At this stage of his career it's most likely his best days are behind him, but looking to next season, what could Hudson bring to the table?

Over the course of his career Hudson has generally been healthy.  From time to time his hamstring has given him trouble but, with the exception of a wrist injury in August '08 that kept him out the rest of the season, he's been a full-time contributor since 2003.

There's little doubt that, barring his first major injury or a sudden loss of skill, Hudson would be a big upgrade over anyone the Twins could run out at second base.  He's patient and has a good eye for the strike zone, with a career walk rate of 9% (higher since moving to the National League in 2006) and a career 17.7 O-Zone swing percentage.  He doesn't pop up much (fewer easy outs), and he has a track record of being a decent contact hitter.  In fact, as a general rule, Hudson is simply a good offensive second baseman.  Not great, but he's a good, solid #2 hitter.

He's also a switch-hitter, which would help break up all of the left-handers at the top of the batting order.  Historically he's much better facing right-handed pitching as a lefty (.289/.356/.440) than the other way around (.262/.322/.403), but strategically it might work to break things up late in a game.

By reputation he's a good but streaky fielder, in possession of four Gold Gloves but also known to make easy plays look hard.  His UZR/150 numbers aren't glowing over the last four seasons (-3.7, -7.6, 0.5, -0.7 from '09 back to '06), so it's hard to say without seeing him exactly how good (or not) his defense is at this point in his career.

One interesting point that needs to be made is how much better of a hitter he's been since moving to the National League.  In Toronto from 2002 - 2005, Hudson was just a .270/.328/.418 hitter over 1780 plate appearances.  But after turning 28 and changing leagues, over his last four years he's been a .293/.363/.440 hitter in 2337 plate appearances.  Toronto was a hitter's park; Arizona even moreso.  Under most circumstances I think AL-NL changes make more of a difference to pitchers than to hitters, but this is still curious.

In 2010 Hudson should be a 2-to-3-win player.  As a popular target he's going to probably receive multiple offers.  Can the Twins be competetive without overpaying?  Like Orlando Cabrera, Hudson is a vocal guy--one of those players who you can count on to always be there behind the scenes.  That has to be worth something on a squad which lacks that one outspoken character; although to be fair it's hard to say what goes on behind closed locker room doors.  Besides, Minnesotans aren't always the most forgiving of outspoken characters.

Adding Hudson would give the Twins just one more bat, and a Span-Hudson-Mauer-Morneau-Kubel-Cuddyer-Hardy front seven is nothing to sneeze at.  As Bill Smith, what realistic offer would you make to bring him on board?  Or would you not tender him a contract at all?

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