Braves GM pulls off a stunner with Hudson contract
Posted: Tuesday March 1, 2005 6:04PM; Updated: Tuesday March 1, 2005 6:05PM
John Schuerholz stops short of taking swings for the Braves, but he does take care of just about everything else.
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Maybe someday they'll find out that John Schuerholz was just really, really good at cooking the books. Or that he had a knack for blackmail. Or hypnosis.
But until then, all we can do is bow down to one of the best general managers in any sport, at any time, a man who somehow has kept alive a string of unmatched division titles. Somehow, Schuerholz has found the right players, come up with just the right amount of money when he needed it, plugged the holes and put out the fires, and his Braves have responded by winning their division 13 straight times.
Schuerholz pulled off his latest out-of-nowhere move Tuesday by signing ace Tim Hudson to a contract extension for four years at a ridiculous bargain-basement price, locking up the best young right-hander in the game through at least the 2009 season.
"There's a reason [for the Braves' success]," the team's new closer, Dan Kolb, said Tuesday. "I don't know what it is yet. But there's a reason why."
In fact, there are a lot of reasons, but none more important than Schuerholz, who has been the team's GM since its streak of division titles began in 1991. He coaxed Hudson into a deal worth $47 million -- the contract could check in at as much as $58 million over five years with the option year -- effectively keeping the Braves almost as pitching-rich as they were in the days of John Smoltz, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. Hudson, winner of 92 games in the past six years and holder of a lifetime 3.30 ERA, and Smoltz will be at the top of the rotation for at the next two years and maybe longer.
The signing of Hudson was a typically shrewd Schuerholz deal, like the offseason trade for Kolb that pushed Smoltz back into the rotation and the trade that brought Hudson to the Braves in the first place. Like the trade for J.D. Drew last year. Like the trade for Gary Sheffield before that.
This is, without a doubt, one huge Wal-Mart special for the Braves. Hudson could have commanded $12 to $15 million a year on the open market, which means he may have left a huge wad of cash on the table.
"There's a lot of it still on the table," Schuerholz insisted. "Big piles of it."