In a low-risk, potentially high-reward attempt to add offense to their lineup, the Giants came to an agreement with free agent 1B/DH Aubrey Huff on Sunday. The deal will pay Huff in the neighborhood of $3 million to be their primary first basemen in 2010, after they failed to add their first choice, Adam LaRoche.
Now, Huff doesn't excite me like he would have had they added him 5-6 years back, but It's tough to argue with a potential 30-home run, 100 RBI guy coming in for just 3  million and 1 season. I sort of overlooked Huff this off-season, and didn't write about him at all, even though I probably should have seen something like this coming. I just really thought it would be LaRoche signing with the Giants, and when they had announced they were close to signing a left-handed bat a couple days ago, I figured it would be Adam LaRoche. I would have rather seen the Giants ink LaRoche too, but since his demands were exceeding his worth to the Giants, I see the logic in going with plan B. Huff will give the Giants almost everything LaRoche would have, minus the solid defense and batting average. Huff struggled last year to the tune of .241 (avg), 15 (hr), 85 (RBI), .694 (OPS), despite putting up a career type year in '08 when he hit .304, 32, 108, .912. That line he put up in '08 was one of the best in the AL, and although I don't expect him to do that in San Francisco, it's pretty clear that he still has some solid baseball left in him.
The main concerns with Huff are his defense at first base and his dramatic drop-off in production last year. His sub-.700 OPS he put up last year raises some big red-flags, but each time I think about the potential negatives of his game, I remember that he's only being paid $3 million for 1 year and if it doesn't work out for some reason, they can put him on the bench, or if worst comes to worse, they can DFA him, but I really don't see it getting to that. I think Huff is going to have a nice rebound year, as he probably wants to prove he's worthy of another multi-year deal before he's done. He just turned 33 years old, so it's not like he's an old ballplayer by any stretch, and that's what's giving me reason to believe he's got a couple good years left in him. Again, I would much rather have had Adam LaRoche at first for the Giants in '10, but since the Giants would have had to overpay to get him, it's really tough to complain about the Aubrey Huff deal.
Huff will arrive at camp atop the Giants' first base depth chart, but he also has the flexibility to play a few different places. Some are concerned about Huff needing to learn a new league, but he's not a complete stranger to the NL. He played with Houston for half of the '06 season and put up some nice numbers (13 hr, 38 RBI, .819 OPS in 224 ab's). I'd like to see him slotted into the fifth spot behind Pablo Sandoval, as he's the one Giant in the lineup who's got a 100-RBI season under his belt. That would place DeRosa in the three spot ahead of Sandoval creating a DeRosa-Sandoval-Huff middle of the order. Not exactly what I was hoping for when the offseason began, but probably the best trio they've had in these spots since 2004, as all 3 are capable of 20 hr, 80 RBI and a .800+ OPS. The Giants also still could add another outfielder (Xavier Nady?) if there are still a bunch available heading into February, so they may not be done yet.
Another positive about this Huff signing is that it will leave Pablo Sandoval at third base for the most part in 2010. DeRosa will now shift to left-field, which also  means Eugenio Velez can move back to the utility role and doesn't need to be a starter. And unless Sabean goes out and adds another outfielder, which he certainly may do before the end of the offseason, it looks like Nate Schierholtz will be penciled in to start in right. Huff also has the ability to play right, although AT&T Park doesn't have your typical right field set-up, which could help get Juan Uribe into the lineup. With Aubrey Huff, the Giants also now have a guy who can find the water behind the right-field wall at AT&T Park, something we haven't seen done much since Barry Bonds was around. I'm expecting something along the lines of a .270, 22 hr, 90 RBI, .800 OPS line from Huff in this lineup in 2010, and I'd say that's well worth $3 million.
Trevor Cole The Giants Baseball Blog