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Yankees Potential Free Agent Target: Daniel Hudson

Daniel Hudson revitalized his career in 2019, and makes for an intriguing bullpen option on the market.

World Series - Washington Nationals v Houston Astros - Game Seven Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

It seems like Brian Cashman never needs much temptation to add to the Yankees’ bullpen. With the guy who pitched a perfect ninth inning to close out Game Seven of the World Series on the market, he will likely warrant a strong look from the Yankees. Daniel Hudson is coming off an outstanding season that saw him live the dream of children all over the world when he recorded a strikeout to end the World Series.

Hudson’s journey to the World Series was long, and filled with adversity. His early career struggles with injuries were a major part of Jeff Passan’s book “The Arm” published in 2016. Hudson fought through not just one Tommy John surgery, but felt his arm give way during his first rehab start leading to a second Tommy John procedure. All of his Tommy John injuries occurred just months after he had turned down a three-year, $15M extension from the Arizona Diamondbacks. At the time, Hudson was a good starting pitching prospect for Arizona, but his manager at the time, Kirk Gibson, and others in organization had already pegged him as having the right mentality to close out games.

Heading into 2019, Hudson’s career had been far from the storybook ending he wanted. In parts of five seasons he complied a 4.49 ERA in 238 innings since returning from his second Tommy John surgery. Coming off another below average season with the Dodgers in 2018, Hudson accepted a minor league deal from the Los Angeles Angels heading into 2019. Even in a franchise that is perpetually starved for pitching, Hudson could not latch on and was released before the end of spring Training. Landing with the Toronto Blue Jays, Hudson crossed paths with the Yankees three times in 2019, allowing one earned run in 3.1 innings. After posting a solid 3.00 ERA, and 1.27 WHIP in 48 innings for Toronto, Hudson was traded to the Washington Nationals at the deadline.

Injected into a playoff race, Hudson was outstanding for the Nationals down the stretch. He posted a 1.44 ERA, and an 0.88 WHIP in 24 regular season appearances. He did not give up a run in his first seven postseason appearances as Washington worked its way through the Wild Card, Divisional round, and League Championship Series. He was tagged by Houston for four runs in his first two World Series opportunities, but still had the faith of his manager with the season on the line to close out Game Seven.

Hudson features a 4-seam fastball that averages 96.2 mph, and topped out over 98 this season. He also uses his slider 23.3% of the time, while showing a change up and sinker at times to add to his pitch mix. On the season he recorded 8.8 K/9, with a 3.3 BB/9 rate.

Right now Hudson is not a perfect fit for the Yankees as they have already built one of the top bullpens in the sport. If Hudson is available for the right deal, or an injury strikes before Hudson signs, I could see the Yankees looking to bring him in. He is a strong armed reliever who has performed well on the biggest stage of them all, but right now it’s unlikely that the Yankees would bring him in.