Monday, the Detroit Tigers acquired first baseman / DH Aubrey Huff off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Brett Jacobson, an A-level minor leaguer.
The Tigers intend to use Huff to bolster their lineup for the pennant chase, as they are only 2.5 games behind the White Sox in the AL Central. Coming off his career season in 2008, Huff is hitting just .253 this year with 13 homeruns, 72 RBI, 52 runs and no steals. These numbers put him on a pace behind his career averages of .287 / 26 / 92 / 82 / 3 coming into 2009.
So Huff is joining a contender for the first time in his career. Will he make the most of it? And how will his new surroundings play into his value for the playoffs this season?
In January, we told you to be cautious about investing a draft pick on Huff worthy of a starting lineup spot. Instead, we recommended that you consider him nothing more than a reserve 1B, corner infielder, or DH/utility. So far, our projections seem to be right on point.
Huff’s versatility will have some value for the Tigers. If Huff isn’t in the plans at 3B for the Tigers, Carlos Guillen and Huff will probably platoon at 1B. Marcus Thames is going to be the fall guy in terms of playing time. Offensively, Huff would seem to be the biggest upgrade for the Tigers by taking over at 3B – replacing Ryan Raburn. He’s probably a defensive liability if he played 3B, however.
The Tigers offense might have more firepower than Baltimore’s, but I doubt Huff’s value down the stretch in fantasy baseball goes up too much with this trade. His ownership is in the low 90′s, his starting % is in the 60′s, and his trade value in 1-for-1 deals is the likes of John Danks, Hunter Pence, and Jorge Cantu. Expect his starting % to go up and trade value to increase a bit, although I don’t see anyone rushing out to add Huff if they don’t already have him.
Consider his fantasy value today to be the same as we predicted in January – middling first baseman / reserve DH.