Well, it looks like we can forget those Royals-wanna-sign-Orlando Hudson rumors. Our Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers have reached a deal with Hudson for $3.4 million but with more than that (a possible $4.6 million) in incentives. It’ll be interesting to see what those entail. (Hudson made $6.2 mil last year.)
It was always a long shot that the Royals would sign Hudson because general manager Dayton Moore would have had to slash some payroll to add some payroll, not an easy task. Moore always downplayed the possibility, indicating he wasn’t going to go through the roster whacking players just so he could sign Hudson.
So let’s let Mark Teahen, Willie Bloomquist, Alberto Callaspo, Esteban German and Tug Hulett patrol the dirt around second base and see what happens. Manager Trey Hillman says he’ll take a long look at Teahen at second before he goes off to play for Canada in the World Baseball Classic. But he also wants Teahen to take some turns in the outfield, too, to stay sharp in the pasture. Put everybody who’s competing at first base and second base on the diamond at the same time and the field might tilt to the right. It’s going to be an interesting spring at those spots.
— Dick Kaegel
The Royals acquired a second baseman on Thursday but no, not Orlando Hudson. It was Tug Hulett, claimed off outright waivers from the Seattle Mariners.
Hulett will report to the Royals’ camp on Friday. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Royals designated left-handed pitcher Neal Musser for assignment.
Last season Hulett, 26, broke into the Majors in 30 games with the Mariners, batting .224 (11-for-49). A left-handed batter, he spent most of the summer with Triple-A Tacoma and hit .298 with 14 homers and 47 RBIs in 91 games.
Second base is his primary position but he’s also played shortstop and third base.
Manager Trey Hillman doesn’t slot Hulett into the battle for second base which already features Alberto Callaspo, Willie Bloomquist and Mark Teahen.
“I wouldn’t count him out because I don’t know what’s going to happen but it’s certainly not a priority with me with what we already have and are looking at there,” Hillman said.
Hulett’s father, infielder Tim Hulett, played 12 seasons in the Majors for the Chicago White Sox, Baltimore Orioles and St. Louis Cardinals. Tim Hulett, born in Springfield, Ill., went to Auburn University.
Musser, 28, was 3-5 with a 4.34 ERA in 36 games last season for Triple-A Omaha. He appeared in just one game for the Royals but, in 2007, he was in 17 games with a 4.38 ERA and a 0-1 record.
Hudson, a free agent sometimes linked to the Royals, remained unsigned although the Los Angeles Dodgers were talking to him.
The Orlando Hudson talk involving the Royals isn’t going to go away until somebody signs the guy and the Dodgers are negotiating with the free agent second baseman. Royals general manager Dayton Moore was asked about the Hudson situation again on Wednesday. He was typically non-commital.
“Until every Major League free agent is signed, we look for ways to improve our team. But we don’t expect any new addition to our camp in the immediate future,” he said. “What we have here is what we expect to have. But you never know. The phone could ring and something could happen.”
But, really, there’s no hint that the Royals will land Hudson because Moore has reached his budget limit. He’d have to dump $4 or $5 million or whatever it takes to get Hudson and that’s not likely to happen.
Unless that phone happens to ring and . . .
Could Orlando Hudson be in the Royals’ second-base future? ESPN’s Buster Olney hears that the Royals are trying to figure out a way to fit Hudson into their budget.
That could be true because general manager Dayton Moore has said all along he’s always thinking about ways to improve the lineup. He also acknowledges that the problem is he’s reached (and probably exceeded) his $70-million plus payroll limit. Moore is already sticking his neck out to some degree. To add Hudson or any other player with a stiff price tag, Moore will have to lop off a sizable salary elsewhere.
There’s no doubt that Hudson, one of several alluring players still on the free-agent market, would help the Royals’ lineup. Right now at second base, there’s Alberto Callaspo and Willie Bloomquist set to do battle with Mark Teahen willing to shift to that spot if he can show he can handle it.
Moore will not comment on individual free agents and he cannot be asked about it now anyway. Sadly, he went to Houston on Saturday to be with his ailing mother.
Sure, Hudson would be a nice addition. But he won’t come cheap even if he’s running out of time; he made $6.25 million last year. Moore would have to figure out a money tradeoff to pull that off.
— Dick Kaegel