Braves To Acquire Tim Hudson

The Atlanta Braves have acquired right-hander Tim Hudson from the Oakland Athletics for left-handed pitching prospect Dan Meyer, pitcher Juan Cruz, and outfielder Charles Thomas, BravesCenter.com has learned.

The Braves have also traded outfielder Eli Marrero to the Kansas City Royals for minor league prospect Jorge Vazquez.

Hudson is a legitimate number one starter in a rotation that will also include John Smoltz, Mike Hampton, John Thomson, and Horacio Ramirez. He went 12-6 in 2004 with a 3.53 ERA in 27 starts. Hudson allowed 194 hits in 188.2 innings pitched with 44 walks and 103 strikeouts. He spent almost a month on the disabled list with a stained hip muscle.

The 29-year old Hudson just finished his sixth season in the major leagues. He has a career record of 92-39 and an ERA of 3.30. Hudson has the second-best winning percentage among active pitchers, behind only Pedro Martinez.

The Braves did not want to give up Meyer, particularly after trading Jose Capellan to the Brewers Saturday night. However, the chance to get a number one pitcher for their rotation was too good to pass up.

Negotiations between the A's and Braves broke down Friday night when the Braves refused to give the A's second baseman Marcus Giles. However, the A's were so infatuated with Meyer that they continued talks again Sunday night. The Braves told them talks would have to go on without Giles, and the A's had no objections.

Meyer was the A's main target all along. They believe he is a better prospect that Dodgers right-hander Edwin Jackson, who was reportedly part of the Dodgers offer for Hudson along with infielder Antonio Perez. The A's also believe Meyer will step in and be the fourth starter in their rotation behind Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, and Rich Harden.

The Braves had been in discussions with Kevin Millwood, and his signing may have killed any chances of this deal being completed. However, Atlanta's one-year, $4 million dollar offer fell on deaf ears of Millwood's agent, Scott Boras. After there was no response early Monday from Millwood or his agent, the Braves and A's continued discussions.

Atlanta drafted Meyer in the Supplemental Round (34th overall) in the 2002 draft out of James Madison University. It did not take him long to become one of the Braves top pitching prospects. In his first season, for Danville of the Appalachian League, he went 3-3 with a 2.74 ERA in 13 starts. He also allowed only 47 hits in 65.2 innings pitched, 18 walks, and 77 strikeouts.

Then in 2003 Meyer moved on to Rome in the South Atlantic League and started off strong. He went 4-4 with a 2.87 ERA in 15 starts, only 15 walks and 95 strikeouts in 81.2 innings of work. The Braves promoted him to High-A Myrtle Beach where he went 3-6 with a 2.87 ERA in 13 starts.

Meyer's 2004 season started out in AA Greenville. He continued his dominance at a very tough level. He went 6-3 with a 2.22 ERA in 14 games (13 starts), allowed only 50 hits in 65 innings of work with 12 walks and 86 strikeouts. Meyer was assigned to AAA Richmond on June 27th and did not slow up one bit. He went 3-3 in 12 games (11 starts) with a 2.79 ERA, 25 walks and 60 K's in 61.1 innings pitched.

In September the Braves promoted Meyer to the big leagues for two relief appearances. He will leave the organization with a perfect ERA of 0.00, allowing only two hits in two innings with a walk and a strikeout.

Meyer's overall minor league numbers in the Braves organization: 19 wins, 19 losses, 2.71 ERA, 67 games, 65 games started, 304 hits in 352 innings pitched, 106 earned runs, 87 walks, and 374 strikeouts.

BravesCenter.com named Meyer the Braves second best pitching prospect following the 2004 season.

While Meyer was tremendously difficult to give up, the Braves are getting an ace pitcher. The major question regarding Hudson's acquisition is his future. His contract, worth $6.75 million dollars, is up at the end of the 2005 season. However, Hudson grew up in Columbus, Georgia, just 80 miles southwest of Atlanta, and attended Auburn University. The Braves believe they have an excellent chance to sign Hudson to a contract extension.

The organization believes this is a totally different scenario than last year, when they acquired J.D. Drew in the last year of his contract, only to see him leave this year as a free agent. Hudson has publicly stated before that he grew up a huge Braves fan, and the hope is one he becomes a Braves pitcher, he'll want to remain one for a many years. Hudson's agent recently told the Athletics that his client would like a new deal in place by March 1 of next year. Rumors have placed his asking price in the 4-year, $40 million dollar range.

Here are comments Hudson has made through the years about growing up a Braves fan:

Here are comments Hudson has made through the years about growing up a Braves fan:

Associated Press – June 11, 2003
Oakland's Tim Hudson allowed two runs and six hits in eight innings. He is 4-2 in 14 starts. Greg Maddux gave up three runs and seven hits in seven innings. Hudson, 28, grew up a Braves' fan in Alabama, about 90 minutes from Atlanta. He said he once patterned himself after Maddux.

"It was exciting for me to pitch against that club," Hudson said. "You couldn't ask for a better game.

It was such an important night for Hudson that he had his parents, Ronnie and Sue, travel to the game and tried to get them seats as close to the field as possible.

***

Baseball Digest – Susan Slusser – December 2002
Hudson: Nah, it's kind of cool. I grew up a Braves fan (in Phenix City, Alabama), and the buzz was always about (Tom) Glavine and (John) Smoltz and (Steve) Avery, or (Greg) Maddux once he got there. It was always three. All those comparisons to the Braves staff in 2001--these guys don't know what a big deal that is.

***

Associated Press - 2002
"I grew up a Braves fan so I was able to watch a lot of their success. Those guys were a lot of fun," Hudson said. "It's a lot of fun watching these guys here do what they do."

***

Associated Press – June 12, 2003
RHP Greg Maddux didn't get a chance to meet with A's RHP Tim Hudson but said he'd like to invite several of the A's players, Hudson included, to participate in his golf tournament. "I need him and about 18 others with a good handicap," said Maddux. Hudson, who grew up a Braves fan, said earlier in the week he was a big fan of Maddux and wanted to meet him.

***

Along with the Braves, the Dodgers (Edwin Jackson and Antonio Perez), Cardinals (Jason Marquis and Danny Haren), and Orioles (Erik Bedard, John Maine, and Hayden Penn) were also mentioned as being interested in Hudson.

The Braves rotation of Smoltz, Hudson, Hampton, Thomson, and Ramirez will stack up nicely in a very competitive National League East, where the Mets have added Pedro Martinez, the Phillies have signed Jon Leiber, and the Marlins have acquired Al Leiter.

The Braves now feel the top three starters (Smoltz, Hudson, and Hampton) can match up with any trio in the game - as long as all three stay healthy.

With the trade of Meyer and Capellan in the last week, it marks the second offseason in a row Braves General Manager John Schuerholz has traded at least two of the organization's top pitching prospects. Last offseason the Braves traded Adam Wainwright to St. Louis, Bubba Nelson and Jung Bong to Cincinnati, and Andy Pratt to the Chicago Cubs.

Bill Shanks can be reached at thebravesshow@email.com

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