The Nationals officially announced the re-signing of reliever Daniel Hudson this morning. The pitcher that recorded the final three outs in Game 7 of the 2019 World Series to send the Nats to their first title comes back to D.C. on a two-year contract worth a reported $11 million.
Hudson was a major part of literally saving the Nats’ regular season and then decisively ending the final game with a swinging strikeout of the Astros’ Michael Brantley. He went 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA with six saves in 24 games. In the postseason, Hudson went 1-0 with a 3.72 ERA and four saves over nine games.
Hudson said during a Tuesday teleconference that he was surprised the negotiations were still in play after the Nationals signed reliever Will Harris.
“Pretty much that whole week leading up to when Will signed, there was some open dialogue,” Hudson said. “We were trying to figure things out. They had mentioned that they had interest. I mentioned I had interest in other teams as well. We kind of had a talk that day that Will signed.
“I pretty much thought that kind of closed the book on it, but they circled back the next day and said that they were still interested and wanted to try to work something out.”
Hudson, 32, joins what now could be described as a vaunted trio of relievers to close out games alongside Sean Doolittle and Harris.
“I kept in contact with Doo throughout the entire offseason and he asked me how things were going, kept reiterating how much he wanted me back,” Hudson said. “I kept saying I’d love to be back as well.”
And Hudson was quick to point out that the rest of the bullpen provides experience and ability, with Tanner Rainey, Wander Suero, Roenis Elías and Hunter Strickland. The team also signed minor leaguer Kyle Finnegan and has a trio of potential No. 5 starters in Joe Ross, Austin Voth and Erick Fedde who could conceivably be called upon to keep the opponent at bay later in games.
“It’s definitely a bonus when you have other talented players around you,” Hudson said. “I feel like it kind of ups your game a little bit. I feel like we have a very wide range of types of pitchers in our bullpen with Suero and Rainey as well, and obviously Doo and Will. There’s a lot of different looks coming at you. We kind of complement each other well.”
Hudson indeed had other potential suitors, but he liked the opportunity that the Nats provided with a loaded squad seeking to become the first back-to-back World Series winners since the Yankees’ run of three titles from 1998-2000.
“Recreating what we had is going to be tough, but I feel like I want to try and be a part of that,” Hudson said. “I made it known to my agent that I’d be open to going back. Luckily, they still had the interest in me as well. I feel like the window to continue winning in D.C. is definitely still open. I’d like to be a part of that still.”
The $5.5 million per year will be the most Hudson has earned since his 2017 contract with the Diamondbacks. And after pitching for five different teams over the past four seasons, he appreciated the added assurance of being able to play for one team for what could now be two and a half seasons straight.
“Obviously, I’ve kind of bounced around a lot the last couple of years,” Hudson said. “It’s kind of an unsettling feeling knowing, I guess, that there’s always a chance you could get traded or everything could go wrong. Pretty up-and-down life we live. To have that security is a huge selling point for me, them being willing to listen and being open to giving me two years. I know my injury history isn’t on my side. For them to kind of take care of me and my family was definitely huge factor in me wanting to come back there.”
But the most important thing is where is the ball he threw for a strikeout of Brantley to win Game 7 and send D.C. into a celebration to end all celebrations?
Hudson confirmed that catcher Yan Gomes still has the ball in his possession.
“I don’t know what he plans on doing with it,” Hudson said. “I told him I still want half of it at some point, maybe we could cut it in half. Negotiations are ongoing. Maybe we could get something written out where we could have joint custody over it or something. That would be nice.”