Aubrey Huff Rumors
It's been less than a week since the Giants were crowned World Champions, but GM Brian Sabean has already started to act on his offseason agenda. Here's the latest from San Francisco, courtesy of Andrew Baggarly of The Mercury News...
- Sabean was very explicit in saying that Pablo Sandoval will be sent to the minors next year if he doesn't improve his conditioning. Kung Fu Panda will spend the winter with fitness and nutrition experts in San Diego before reporting to Spring Training a month early. He will have benchmarks to meet this offseason.
- Sabean has reached out to the agents for Aubrey Huff and Juan Uribe, and although he acknowledged that both players are priorities, he couldn't commit to bringing them back. The market could play out very favorably for those two.
- The team is currently discussing Pat Burrell internally, who would be brought back in a reserve role if anything. Remember that the Giants will have Mark DeRosa and his righty bat back from injury next season.
- Sabean's priority is to get more left-handed, and when asked about Carl Crawford, he responded "We'll see. That's the best answer I can give you."
- Sabean also said that he's still upset about being portrayed as a suitor for CC Sabathia two offseasons ago, claiming he never met with the player or his representatives. "[W]e do not want to be somebody’s fallback or stalking horse to be used as leverage," said the game's longest-tenured GM.
- Baggarly doesn't think the Giants will be serious players for Jayson Werth, and their desire to get more athletic could take them out of Adam Dunn sweepstakes.
- The team's payroll is expected to eclipse the $100MM mark for the first time, and Sabean wouldn't commit to offering arbitration to all eight of his eligible players. He is interested in bringing them all back, however.
- It almost goes without saying, but Sabean is hopeful that the World Series victory will make San Francisco a more desirable landing spot for free agents.
Aubrey Huff and the Giants probably won't agree on an extension before the team's exclusive negotiating period with free agents ends on Sunday, but Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports that there is "mutual interest" between both sides in Huff returning in 2011.
The one-year, $3MM contract that Huff signed with San Francisco last January was roundly criticized, but in the wake of his .891 OPS and his key role in the Giants' World Series title, it's safe to say that Huff and Brian Sabean had the last laugh. Huff will be looking for a much bigger salary in his new deal, though since he's turning 34 in December, the Giants probably aren't interested in anything longer than a three-year pact at most. There's also the presence of first base prospect Brandon Belt to consider; the 2009 amateur draft fifth-rounder advanced all the way to Triple-A in his first professional season, posting a 1.075 OPS at high A ball, Double-A and Triple-A Fresno.
Baggarly notes that Huff is looking for new representation. This is the second time this year that Huff has changed agents, as he moved to SFX's Mark Pieper from ACES in August. Baggarly says that Huff could also represent himself, which would likely mean "a quicker resolution" to an extension.
Links for Thursday, exactly ten years after the Angels signed Ervin Santana as an amateur free agent...
- Aubrey Huff is enjoying his time in San Francisco, writes Chris Haft of MLB.com. Huff, who signed a one-year, $3MM deal with the Giants in the offseason, will be a free agent at season's end.
- The Marlins still consider Bobby Valentine a candidate for their managerial opening and Valentine didn't rule out the possibility of re-starting talks with the team, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
- The Astros announced that they removed Chris Sampson from their 40-man roster. He has three days to accept a minor league assignment or opt for free agency. Sampson told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart that he realizes his time with the Astros is likely over.
- The Mariners say they knew little about Josh Lueke's history with the law when they acquired the pitching prospect in the Cliff Lee trade, but both the Rangers and former Mariners pitching coach Rick Adair have different versions of the story, as Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times explains.
- Unsure where your team is going to pick in next year's draft? Check out our reverse standings page, which we link to under 'Features' on the right side of the page.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the D’Backs plan to speak to De Jon Watson, the Dodgers assistant GM for player development, about their permanent GM job. Also in the running, some familiar names: Jerry Dipoto, D’Backs assistant GM Peter Woodfork, Kevin Towers, Damon Oppenheimer and Logan White.
- Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic believes Chien-Ming Wang, who signed for $2MM plus incentives, is a better comparable for Brandon Webb than Rich Harden, Tim Hudson, or the other pitchers his agent compared him to.
- Chone Figgins told Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times that he doesn't regret signing in Seattle.
- Rookie pitcher Hisanori Takahashi can become a free agent after the season, as David Waldstein of the New York Times reports. He and the Mets haven't started negotiating an extension, but there's mutual interest in one.
Links for Thursday, exactly two years after the Padres traded Greg Maddux to the Dodgers...
- Aramis Ramirez told Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com that he plans to honor his contract. Presumably that means he intends on exercising his 2011 player option worth $14.6MM.
- As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports points out on Twitter, Scott Podsednik has now reached 525 plate appearances for 2010, so he will have the power to void his 2011 option. The Dodgers have a $2MM option for next season with a $100K buyout.
- Mark Pieper of SFX now represents Aubrey Huff, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Huff, a free agent this winter, left ACES earlier in the season.
- Brad Hawpe, who was officially released today, thanked the fans for his seven years in Colorado, via Troy Renck of the Denver Post. It's been a rough year for Hawpe, who was "a player who everybody would have wanted" last winter, according to a GM who spoke to ESPN.com's Buster Olney.
- Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe says he would offer Adrian Beltre a three-year $45MM deal this winter if he were running the Red Sox, but he's not sure about $60MM over four years.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports suggests all parties would benefit if the Dodgers trade Manny Ramirez this month. Manny is rehabbing, but can soon be placed on waivers. He will likely clear waivers and draw trade interest.
Aubrey Huff has "earned consideration" for a new contract, Brian Sabean told Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News (Twitter link). However, Sabean added that the Giants won't discuss Huff's potential future in San Francisco until after the season.
The 33-year-old has been one of baseball's best bargains, hitting .294/.380/.548 with 17 home runs while earning $3MM on a one-year contract. With Pablo Sandoval posting a career-low .710 OPS so far, Huff has assumed the role of the team's top middle-of-the-order bat. Still, Sabean says the team won't negotiate contract extensions for any player during the season, Huff included, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter).
Sabean also told Schulman that, although the Giants' GM has explored possible deals with 20 teams, Huff is unlikely to be a trade chip this year. As Schulman tweets, the Giants would like Huff to return in 2011, so they'd be reluctant to move him to another club even if they slipped out of playoff contention before the trade deadline.
Aubrey Huff told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle that he “would love” to return to the Giants in 2011. But the 33-year-old knows the Giants will have to be interested if he is to return when his one-year $3MM contract expires after the season
“I'd love to be back,” Huff said. “But it's up to the front office. I've just got to go out and play my game and see what happens."
Huff, who is 15 pounds lighter this season, has impressed the Giants with his batting and flexibility, according to Shea. He has played first base, left field and right field, posting a .311/.401/.549 line in the process. That kind of production would interest a number of teams, so if the Giants want to bring Huff back as much as he wants to return, they will probably have to give him a raise.
Don't look now, but Albert Pujols, Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez and Joey Votto are the only National Leaguers with a higher OPS than Aubrey Huff. A few months ago, the Huff signing was mentioned as one of the worst moves of the winter by MLB executives who spoke to Tim Dierkes. After all, Huff finished the 2009 season with a lower batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage than the player he was hired to replace, Travis Ishikawa. Not only that, Huff is seven years older than the slick-fielding Ishikawa and cost the Giants $3MM.
At the time, it seemed like a deal the Giants didn't have to make. Now, it's hard to imagine where they'd be without Huff, who is hitting .307/.399/.550 with 12 homers. If this performance came out of nowhere, it would seem fluky, but Huff did hit 32 homers with a .912 OPS just two years ago. His current batting average on balls in play and home run to fly ball ratio are in line with the ones he has posted in his best seasons, so it doesn't seem like he's on the brink of regressing.
Huff's improved batting will undoubtedly help his case when he hits free agency again after the season. His versatile play won't hurt, either. He started the season at first base, but has been playing in left and right since Buster Posey arrived in the majors.
Still, it's hard to imagine teams offering Huff multi-year deals. He turns 34 this December and other sluggers like David Ortiz, Vladimir Guerrero, Carlos Pena, Troy Glaus and Adam Dunn could be available this winter. But if Huff keeps hitting like this, he could more than double his salary on a one-year deal for 2011.
- Heath Bell told Ephraim Fischbein of New York Baseball Digest that he's happy in San Diego, but would like to return to the Mets if the Padres decide to go in a different direction.
- Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News (via Twitter) applauds the Giants' signings of Juan Uribe and Aubrey Huff, who cost the club roughly $3MM each.
- Mark Tracy is excited to be a part of the Rockies along with his father, manager Jim Tracy, writes MLB.com's Thomas Harding. Colorado selected the skipper's son in the 22nd round of the 2010 Draft.
- Contrary to a report late last night, the Angels and Red Sox did not agree to a swap of Gary Matthews Jr. and Mike Lowell over the winter, a major league source told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.
- David Lennon of Newsday (via Twitter) writes that it's an 80% possibility that the Mets non-tender John Maine after this season.
- ESPN's Buster Olney says that the Indians are likely to move some veterans in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline, but they could be a dangerous team to face until then because of Fausto Carmona, Justin Masterson, and Jake Westbrook (Insider req'd).
- MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch says to expect negotiations between the Pirates and their top draft picks Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie to go right down to the August 16th signing deadline.
- The Pirates had a long debate about who to take with the second overall pick in last week's draft according to Chuck Finder of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and it wasn't until last weekend that they decided on Jameson over Manny Machado.
- Meanwhile Rob Biertempfel of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says the Pirates won't rush their top prospects. Once those prospects are promoted to the big league team, their minor league roster spots will be filled by players currently on ML roster (after they're optioned down) or by "signing low-cost, minor league free agents."
- Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain Dealer doesn't see the Indians offering anyone but Shin-Soo Choo a multi-year deal, including the resurgent Austin Kearns.
- Newsday's David Lennon thinks it might make sense for the Mets to "consider opening extension talks" with catcher Rod Barajas before the season ends and he hits the free agent market.
Links for Sunday, as we wait to see if the Dodgers can extend their six-game winning streak....
- Ken Rosenthal writes that the Nationals promoted the 10th overall pick from the 2009 draft, Drew Storen, today. Storen had annihilated minor league hitters across two levels this season.
- Ozzie Guillen understands the reasoning behind GM Kenny Williams' recent public confirmation that he's losing patience with his ballclub, writes Ken Falkoff on MLB.com.
- Two players signed to one-year deals, Justin Duchscherer and Nick Johnson, could require surgeries that would sideline them for most or all of this season. MLB.com's Jane Lee and Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork have the details.
- Bill Ladson of MLB.com tweets that Willy Taveras may not accept a minor league assignment if he clears waivers. Taveras was DFA'd by the Nationals last night.
- Luis Ayala has exercised the opt-out clause in his contract, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter). The Dodgers will have to add Ayala to their 25-man roster by Monday afternoon or release him.
- Earlier in the week, MLB.com's Chris Haft floated the idea of the Giants moving Aubrey Huff to left field to make room at first base for Buster Posey. According to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, Huff is open to the idea and thinks Posey would do well at first base.
- Speaking of Posey, John Sickels asks who you'd rather have: the Giants' prospect or Carlos Santana of the Indians.
- The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes details the Indians' changing draft strategy, and fields readers' Tribe-related questions in a mailbag.
- Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette lists the top ten best investments made by the Pirates' current regime.
Some links as we wonder what to make of the red-hot Padres...
- Ace Walker was the pitcher of the year in the independent Northern League last year, but he didn't get any calls from MLB teams over the winter, reports Adam Wazny of the Winnipeg Free Press.
- High schooler Tony Wolters, who was one of the top shortstops available in this year's draft, has been ruled ineligible, according to John Manuel of Baseball America.
- Rays manager Joe Maddon told Scott Miller of CBS Sports that the Rays have to operate with "one eye on the present and one on the future" to win with their budget.
- MLB.com's Chris Haft suggests the Giants could put Aubrey Huff in left field to make room for Buster Posey's bat at first base.
- RotoAuthority explains why it's a little early to talk about a Barry Zito renaissance.
- The Rangers would only consider trading Justin Smoak for a player who would put them "over the top," in the opinion of Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
- Joe Posnanski notes that Dayton Moore fired Trey Hillman days after praising him and suggests that the decision wasn't Moore's.
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told Marc Carig of the Star Ledger that the Tigers were always confident in Austin Jackson's defense.
- The Nationals have the resources to make midseason moves if necessary, writes ESPN.com's Buster Olney.
- James Paxton, a sandwich pick the Blue Jays failed to sign last year, makes his independent league debut tonight. One scout told John Manuel of Baseball America that Paxton threw 88-90 mph and looked rusty in exhibition games.