2023 may have been the most frustrating of Daniel Hudson’s 14 MLB seasons, as injuries limited the Dodgers right-hander to just three appearances. As a result, Hudson is still “undecided” about his playing future, Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic writes, though at the time the reliever was still dealing with the emotions after the Dodgers were just eliminated from the postseason.
Los Angeles signed Hudson to a one-year, $7MM deal going into 2022 and that relationship began beautifully, with Hudson delivering a 2.22 ERA, 30.9% strikeout rate, 5.2% walk rate and 53.4% ground ball rate over his first 25 appearances and 24 1/3 innings in Dodger blue. However, Hudson’s season was abruptly ended by a torn left ACL in June 2022, but L.A. had enough faith in his ability to come back that the club signed him to an extension that September. The Dodgers made the early decision to exercise their $6.5MM club option on Hudson for 2023, and another $6.5MM club option was added for the 2024 season.
Battling through some knee soreness during the recovery process, Hudson finally returned to action this past June, but pitched in only three games before suffering a sprained MCL in his right knee. The reliever kept rehabbing in an attempt to make it back for at least part of Los Angeles’ playoff run, but that would’ve been a touch-and-go situation even if the Dodgers had advanced to the NLCS or beyond.
While it doesn’t look like L.A. will exercise that club option, the Dodgers could look to bring Hudson back on a smaller sum, perhaps a low-guarantee deal with incentives based around how many appearances Hudson is able to pitch. Of course, that depends on whether or not Hudson (who turns 37 in March) will decide to keep pitching at all, or opt to instead hang up the cleats after his lengthy and successful career. This isn’t the first time Hudson has floated retirement, as he said back in August that he had “been in pretty consistent pain for about 15 months” since the ACL tear.
Ardaya’s piece in general looks ahead to the many decisions the Dodgers will have to make before Opening Day 2024, including a rundown of the club’s other contract options besides Hudson. Of note, Max Muncy’s $10MM club option for next season has now increased to $14MM, since the infielder maxed out his playing time-related bonuses by making 579 plate appearances in 2023.
Muncy battled elbow problems for much of the 2022 season, so the Dodgers signed him to a one-year contract extension in a similar vein to Hudson’s deal. The team essentially committed early to a pre-existing club option on Muncy for 2023, giving him a slight raise to a $10.5MM salary this season and tacking on the 2024 club option with the $10MM base salary. Up to $4MM (in increments of $250K, $500K, and $1MM) more was available based on various playing time thresholds, which Muncy pretty easily cleared. After hitting 36 homers with an .808 OPS and 118 wRC+ this season, there isn’t any doubt Los Angeles will exercise Muncy’s option and bring him back in 2024.