He's Southern through and through, and Braves pitcher Tim Hudson would like to keep it here for the rest of his career.

The Braves are expected to pick up a $9 million team option on Hudson's contract for 2013, relatively inexpensive for a pitcher of his pedigree. But at age 37, it's uncertain what kind of contract the team might offer beyond next season.

"I'd love to stay here," said Hudson, a native of Phenix City, Ala., and former Auburn star who's been with the Braves for eight seasons. "Obviously for next year, but I'd love to stay here as long as they'll have me. I understand a business is a business."

Hudson is 10-1/2 months removed from major back surgery and barely a week removed from his seventh season of at least 16 wins. He opened the season on the disabled list recovering from lumbar-fusion surgery and made 28 starts (second-fewest since his rookie year), but Hudson (16-7) still led the Braves in wins and pitched 179-1/3 innings — one-third of an inning behind team leader Mike Minor.

"I'm hoping Huddy comes back," Braves pitcher Kris Medlen said. "I hope they pick [up the option]. He won 16 games for us and missed a month. That just shows how much we need him and how good he is."