Everyone knows that Aubrey Huff is a free agent at the end of the season, so the rebuilding Orioles have a choice to make.
Either deal him for prospects or offer him arbitration with the thought that he will sign elsewhere at which point we would receive draft picks as compensation. Most likely Huff would be a Type A free agent which would mean we would get two picks before the second round.
The decision may not be that easy. Over the past couple years, teams have been reluctant to sign some lesser valued Type-A free agents, because of losing their 1st round pick (see Juan Cruz) in the following Amateur Draft. This fear of being in “no man’s land” could lead to Huff accepting arbitration at which point we could have him back at one year for $10 million +.
In years past, no player would ever think of taking this type of arbitration, but with the economic downturn in baseball it may prove to be a viable option in the winter of 2009. Therefore, it may be in the Orioles’ best interest to take what they can get for Huff at this point.
Recent developments also suggest the Orioles are ready to jettison Huff. Last week, the O’s promoted top hitting prospect Brandon Snyder after only 201 AB’s at the AA level. At first glance, it seemed a little out of character with the current front office; bumping a hitter up so fast, but it makes sense if Huff is on the move. Plain and simple, they probably want to see if Snyder could be an option at 1st next year. So, they need to get him 250 AAA AB’s to gauge his overall development.
Then you have yesterday’s acquisition of Michael Aubrey. Aubrey is a left handed hitting 1st baseman who came out of the same draft as Nick Markakis, and many felt that he was a better pure hitter after batting .420 his senior year in college. As a pro, Aubrey has been dogged by injuries but has still managed to hit .295 over his minor league career while showing below average power for a 1st baseman.
Is Michael Aubrey the future? No, but he could be part of an adequate platoon with Ty Wigginton or Oscar Salazar for the remainder of the season.
There are 5 weeks until the July 31st deadline and from the look of things Aubrey Huff may be in the playoff hunt, but with a different team.