Chicago White Sox GM Kenny Williams is going to hear it from his detractors if and when it becomes official that the team has signed veteran second-baseman Orlando Hudson. I don't know why that has to be the case for two reasons.
- Williams can be justifiably criticized for plenty of other moves in the course of his tenure.
- Signing Hudson is a pretty low-risk move.
As of early Sunday morning, Hudson is still a free agent following his release Thursday by the San Diego Padres. Hudson was hitting just .211 in 35 games. Scott Merkin of MLB.com reported the two sides agreeing to terms, citing fellow MLB.com writer Peter Gammons' report Saturday that Hudson was planning on signing on for a tour of the South Side.
It almost works out to be a trade with the Padres. San Diego picked up pitcher Eric Stults off of waivers Thursday and started him Saturday. He went into the seventh inning as the Padres beat the Los Angeles Angels, 3-2.
Will Hudson prove to provide that kind of an immediate impact? Here are some things to consider.
Hudson supposedly gave up a shot at a regular spot to backup second and third base for the White Sox. The White Sox do not have a reserve hitting any better than .167 through Saturday.
In fact, Hudson's .211 average is better than the averages of Gordon Beckham and Brent Morel, the incumbents at second and third. Oh, by the way, Morel's back is giving him fits.
All of a sudden, .211 seems like a step up.
Seriously, it's hard to think that Hudson is going to come in and somehow stall the development of Eduardo Escobar, he of the .146 average. Will he take away some at-bats from Escobar and maybe Brent Lillibridge? Possibly, but they haven't done much with the chances they've had.
Hudson has been exclusively a second baseman in his career, during which he's hit .276 and won four Gold Gloves. He knows the National League teams, which Chicago will see a lot of in the next six weeks. He's a switch hitter who has hit well from the left side, though he has struggled to do so this season.
Now, before everyone weighs in on Williams bringing aboard $5.5 million in salary and a $2 million buyout of a $8 million team option, remember that the Padres are on the hook for the entire price tag on Hudson. Williams' offer should be mere peanuts for a veteran player to serve in a similar capacity as Omar Vizquel the past two seasons.
Will Hudson fill the role as well as Vizquel did back in 2010? That has to be shown on the field. For me, there just doesn't seem to be a lot of risk in adding Hudson.
He will come in, try playing some third, spell Beckham occasionally and maybe give Robin Ventura a bat off the bench. It seems like Hudson is well aware of what his role is going to be. If he buys into it, he could prove a valuable asset.
If he's done? Then he's done. The Sox release him and walk away clean.
San Diego is essentially footing the bill here. This isn't like Williams gambling on a big salary like Alex Rios. He's rolling the dice, but at the expense of nickels, not dollars.