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02/20/09 6:49 PM EST
Hudson lands in the middle of LA
Free-agent 2B gives Dodgers perhaps top double-play combo in NL
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Free agents are on sale and the Dodgers picked one up on the cheap on Friday, when they signed second baseman Orlando Hudson, baseball sources confirmed. The one-year contract is for a $3.38 million base salary with another $4.6 million in possible incentives.
The three-time Gold Glover and 2007 All-Star will take over the position from the retired Jeff Kent. Hudson had originally sought a multiyear deal at $10 million annually, but the free-agent market crashed and he slashed his asking price.
The deal came together quickly after it was reported that the Dodgers had also begun talks with another free-agent infielder, Orlando Cabrera. If he and shortstop Rafael Furcal stay healthy, they give the Dodgers potentially the best middle infield in the league.
Hudson will also cost the Dodgers their first-round Draft pick in June, No. 17 overall, as a Type A free agent that was offered salary arbitration by the Arizona Diamondbacks and did not accept. The Dodgers will receive an additional sandwich pick between the first and second rounds and the Atlanta Braves' second-round pick as compensation for the signing of Derek Lowe.
It's not clear how the dominoes will fall with Hudson's addition. Blake DeWitt, the presumed heir apparent to Kent at second base, could move to third base with Casey Blake moving to left field. Or DeWitt could be squeezed out, with Juan Pierre remaining in left.
Then there's that other free agent, Manny Ramirez, who could create a real jam if he and the Dodgers ever end their stalemate.
"I wasn't surprised. It kind of figured," said DeWitt. "I learned last year, expect the unexpected. If somebody is going to get him, why not us? He'll help us win. I'll keep working hard. Whatever is going to happen, will happen."
Hudson had to take a pay cut from the $6.2 million he received last year. He comes with a red flag, having had surgery to repair a dislocated left wrist that cut short his season in August.
At the time, he was batting a career-high .305, compared to a .282 career average. His most productive season was 2006, when he hit 15 homers with 67 RBIs and scored 87 runs.
Hudson was primarily a No. 3 hitter for the Diamondbacks, but he becomes an instant candidate to bat second behind Furcal in the Dodgers batting order, especially if Ramirez winds up batting third in a lineup that also includes Russell Martin, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, James Loney and Blake.
Even without Ramirez, Hudson adds a veteran to the young nucleus that took over last season.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.