It would have been great to sign Hudson for 4 years and keep him. I agree with everyone who said that. But if that was not possible, then it's a choice between one year of Hudson or three players that all seem to be very good.
Some folks have knocked Thomas but in his first year in the big leagues, his OPS at .813 was better than every player on the A's except for Durazo, Chavez, (not far behind) Kotsay (.829), and almost a tie with Byrnes at .814. He would hit about 16 home runs a year if he played as much as Byrnes did last year, and perhaps more with experience. His average should creep up as well.
It sounds like he's a great defensive player. I found this on ESPN.com (August 2004): "But his contributions go beyond hitting. Thomas has already made enough spectacular catches to fill out his own highlight film. He's fit with in with perennial Gold Glover Andruw Jones and right fielder J.D. Drew, giving the Braves one of the best defensive outfields in the majors."
Several of the posts have recognized that Meyer's record indicates he will be a very good pitcher. He was a first round draft pick by the Braves, so his stats are not a fluke.
And Juan Cruz's stats for last year show that in 50 games his ERA was a half run or better than every pitcher on the A's staff except for Hammond, who mostly pitched in mop-up rolls.
Again, I agree with everyone who says it would have been great to sign Hudson for 4 years. But it doesn't seem that was going to happen, so our disappointment should not negate the fact that Thomas, Meyer, and Cruz are three very good players that the A's picked up, players the A's will likely have for a number of years.