Last year, I wrote that the San Diego Padres could have improved their off-season by signing Orlando Hudson. This year, they actually did so. After inking Orlando Hudson to a 2-year $11.5MM contract, the Padres have finally found themselves a major league caliber second baseman.
Last season, Hudson was worth 3.1 fWAR, hitting at almost exactly a league average level, while playing quality defense at a middle infield position.
His 2010 season was not a huge deviation from his career numbers which suggest Hudson has been an average hitter and average fielder, and has thus contributed a lot of value to his teams as a second-baseman.
Prior to singing Hudson, the Padres did not have a second baseman (assuming you did not think Eric Patterson was the solution) on the roster, which makes Hudson’s contributions even more meaningful.
As for the value of the deal, Dave Cameron sums it up nicely:
With a going rate of something in the neighborhood of $5 million per win this winter, Hudson would only have to generate +1.1 WAR in 2011 to justify his salary from a market-rate perspective. For comparison, Aaron Hill‘s .291 wOBA and slightly above-average defense last year was worth +1.1 WAR as a full time second baseman. There is a lot of room for Hudson to regress from his 2010 performance and still be a relative bargain, given the prices free agents have been signing for to date.
Signing Hudson has very little downside, and a good amount of upside. He fills a glaring need for the Padres, at a value rate.
Joaquin Benoit will receive $16.5MM over the next three seasons for the Tigers, and he is a reliever who never been worth more than 2.0 fWAR in his career. Hudson has exceeded 2.0 fWAR in all but one season starting in 2004. Who would you rather have?