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Braves, Hudson finalize 3-year deal
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ATLANTA — Tim Hudson agreed to a three-year contract with the Atlanta Braves on Thursday, giving the team a wealth of starting pitching and setting up a possible trade to bolster the offense.

Hudson could have returned to the Braves under a $12 million mutual option, but the two sides focused on a longer deal after the right-hander showed he had overcome major elbow surgery. They worked out an agreement through 2012, with a club option for 2013.

Financial terms were not immediately available, but the sides were thought to be discussing a contract between $9 million and $10 million a season.

The 34-year-old Hudson grew up in neighboring Alabama and said all along he was willing to give the Braves a discount to remain close to home.

"We are excited to have Tim back as a big part of our club the next three years," general manager Frank Wren said in a statement. "As we maintain the strength of our team, which is the starting pitching, Tim provides veteran leadership that is invaluable to our young pitchers."

The Braves now have six starters under contract for next season: Hudson, Javier Vazquez, Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson, Derek Lowe and Kenshin Kawakami.

Jurrjens (14-10, 2.60 ERA) and Hanson (11-4, 2.89), both 23, are the long-term cornerstones of the staff and Vazquez is coming off one of the best seasons (15-10, 2.87) of his career. Vazquez, who is heading into the final year of his contract, might be the most attractive pitcher in a trade since Lowe (15-10, 4.67) and Kawakami (7-12, 3.86) are both in the middle of expensive, long-term deals.

Hudson was the ace of the pitching staff until he tore up his elbow during the 2008 season. He underwent Tommy John ligament replacement surgery and was out for a full year.

But he returned at the end of this past season to make seven big-league starts, going 2-1 with a 3.61 ERA and the Braves convinced he would be at full strength in 2010.

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