Pittsburgh Pirates Sign Relief Pitcher Daniel Hudson

The Pittsburgh Pirates in need of bullpen help have signed right-handed free agent Daniel Hudson to a contract.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Pirates have signed Daniel Hudson to a two-year deal worth $11 million, an annual average of $5.5 million.  Hudson really broke onto the scene in 2011 with the Arizona Diamondbacks when he posted a 3.49 ERA, 3.28 FIP, 87 ERA-, and 84 FIP- in 222 innings.  Hudson then had Tommy John in 2012, before tearing his UCL again, requiring a second Tommy John surgery.  Hudson returned in 2014 for 2.1 innings as a reliever, and has pitched out of the Arizona bullpen for the last two years.

As a reliever the past two seasons, Hudson has posted a 4.50 ERA, but his 3.64 FIP shows that he was rather unlucky.  His park and league adjusted ERA (ERA-) was six percent below league average (106), but his park and league adjusted FIP (FIP-) was ten percent better than average (90).  The Pirates are likely buying into the fact that he will pitch better in Pittsburgh than in Arizona, and that his 2.3 percent home run rate will decline pitching at pitcher friendly PNC Park, and not at Chase Field.

The other factors in Hudson’s appeal to the Pirates, is his 23.1 percent strikeout rate, 8.4 percent walk rate, and 14.7 percent strikeout-walk.  This could improve with Francisco Cervelli behind the dish, instead of Welington Castillo.  According to StatCorner, Cervelli ranked sixth in getting calls and sixth in runs above average in terms of framing.  Meanwhile, Castillo ranked 84th in both those categories.

In 2016, Hudson’s fastball averaged 96.44 miles per hour, with the league average being just 93.04 miles per hour.  His perceived velocity was 96.18 miles per hour, compared to just 92.76 miles per hour.  The spin rate was also above average, rotating 2366 per minute, average being just 2241 rpms.  Hudson was also able to generate soft contact with his heater, with an average exit velocity of just 85.40 miles per hour, with the league average of 90.13 miles per hour.  His fastball is a weapon, and one that should help the Pirates.

Daniel Hudson round out the Pirates bullpen, joining Jared Hughes and Juan Nicasio as the right-handed relievers, and Tony Watson, Antonio Bastardo, Wade LeBlanc, and Felipe Rivero as the left-handed relievers in the Pirates bullpen.

Hudson is projected at a 3.79 ERA and 3.92 FIP in 2017.  His fastball in a more friendly park, with an excellent pitch framer in Cervelli, should help him improve in his 2016 campaign, which featured a 119 ERA- and 92 FIP-.  In all likelihood, Hudson replaces the role that was held by Neftali Feliz last year.  He is another power arm that can help the Pirates maximize game leverages to their fullest.

*Numbers from fangraphs and MLB

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