SAN FRANCISCO -- Reflecting their efforts to strengthen their starting rotation, the Giants announced that they agreed to terms Monday with right-hander Tim Hudson on a two-year contract.
The 38-year-old Hudson wasn't the most highly sought-after pitcher in free agency. That distinction belongs to Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana. But Hudson remains one of the Major Leagues' most successful performers. With a 205-111 record in 15 seasons, he ranks first in victories and third in winning percentage (.649) among active starters since he reached the bigs in 1999 with the Oakland A's.
Though terms of the deal weren't released, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the sides settled on a contract worth $23 million -- an $11.5 million average annual value that exceeded what the Atlanta Braves, Hudson's employers for the past nine seasons, were willing to pay. ESPN's Buster Olney reported that Hudson also sought a full no-trade clause. Giants officials declined to comment prior to a conference call featuring Hudson scheduled for Tuesday.
The Giants thus concluded their third major agreement involving a potential or full-fledged free agent, demonstrating general manager Brian Sabean's penchant for acting quickly to fill the club's needs. Right fielder Hunter Pence agreed to a five-year, $90 million contract on the eve of the regular season's conclusion. Right-hander Tim Lincecum received a two-year, $35 million deal before he could negotiate with other teams.
Now comes Hudson, a three-time All-Star who has finished among the top six in Cy Young Award voting four times. He ideally will complement three other All-Stars in the Giants' existing rotation: Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Lincecum.
Despite their talent, Giants starters finished last season with a 4.37 ERA, the National League's third highest. Club management believes that Hudson, whose career 3.44 ERA is the Majors' eighth best during his Major League tenure, can help stabilize the contingent that led San Francisco to World Series triumphs in 2010 and '12.
Hudson finished 8-7 with a 3.97 ERA in 21 starts last season for Atlanta. He struggled early, recording a 5.37 ERA in his first 10 starts before recovering to post a 2.73 ERA in his final 11 outings.
Hudson's year ended prematurely on July 24, when he covered first base and the Mets' Eric Young stepped on his right ankle, causing a horrific fracture. Hudson had a surgical screw removed from his ankle nearly two weeks ago, and he is expected to resume running by the end of the month.
Despite Hudson's injury and age, the fact that he didn't hurt his arm allays apprehension regarding his effectiveness. But the Giants will monitor his recovery closely, since he uses his right foot to push off the pitching rubber and impart force upon his deliveries.
The agreement represents a return to the Bay Area for Hudson, who posted a 92-39 mark with the A's in his first six Major League seasons. His lone 20-win season was 2000, his first full year in the big leagues, though he has won 15 or more games eight times, most recently in 2012 (16-7). In eight career starts at San Francisco's AT&T Park, Hudson is 3-3 with a 3.81 ERA.
The Giants' offseason shopping is incomplete. They want to deepen their starting rotation and still hope to re-sign right-hander Ryan Vogelsong, who became a free agent when the club declined the $6.5 million option on his 2014 contract. Retaining left-handed reliever Javier Lopez, who has attracted ample interest as a free agent, remains a top priority. San Francisco also must add a proven hitter either to play left field or prompt position switches to add offensive potential to that spot.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat.