Hudson rules out joining Nationals

Hudson rules out joining Nationals

WASHINGTON -- Free-agent second baseman Orlando Hudson will not play for the Nationals in 2010, as it appears he is set to sign with the Twins, according to a baseball source.

The Nationals did not confirm that they are out of the Hudson sweepstakes.

For several weeks, it appeared Washington was the front-runners to acquire Hudson's services because he has close friendships with first baseman Adam Dunn and outfielder Willie Harris. But Hudson and the Nationals were far apart on money, the source said.

This past season, Hudson, 32, made a base salary of $3.38 million, but with incentives, he received close to $7 million as a member of the Dodgers.

The Nationals offered Hudson $4 million, with incentives that could have brought the value of the contract to $5 million. The source said Hudson was not going to sign with Washington for that kind of money.

The Nationals, however, were not going to give Hudson the $9 million he was seeking. They felt the free-agent market was set for infielders like Hudson when the Giants signed Juan Uribe to a one-year, $3.25 million contract on Jan. 5.

According to the source, Hudson understood why it took until Feb. 22 to sign with the Dodgers last year. He was coming off a wrist injury and people in baseball were not sure if he was healthy. Hudson is 100 percent now and doesn't want to take a pay cut, because he feels he had a good season in 2009, hitting .283 with nine home runs and 62 RBIs for Los Angeles.

The Nationals most likely will turn their attention to Adam Kennedy, who had a nice comeback season in 2009, hitting .289 with 11 home runs and 63 RBIs with the Athletics. The previous two years, he played in a combined 202 games, mostly due to injuries.

Kennedy, 34, is best known for his years with the Angels. In 2002, he was the American League Championship Series MVP after hitting three home runs against the Twins in Game 5.

If the Nationals don't sign Kennedy, they could go with a double-play combination of Ian Desmond at shortstop and Cristian Guzman at second base. But there are people in the organization who have mixed feelings about this duo.

There are some who feel Desmond needs at least a half season in the Minor Leagues because of his defense. Desmond has a reputation for the making the spectacular plays, while having problems with the routine ones.

Guzman, Washington's regular shortstop since 2005, was told that he would play second base because of his lack of range at short. Whether he can make the transition remains to be seen.

General manager Mike Rizzo could also make a trade for a second baseman and leave Guzman at short. It's not known who the Nationals may have interest in on the trade market.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.