SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The San Francisco Giants and first baseman Aubrey Huff agreed to a one-year contract pending a physical, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press on Sunday night.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team hasn’t made a formal announcement, which might not come until later in the week once all the details are finalized. Huff and the Giants reached their preliminary agreement sometime during the weekend.
Acquiring a reliable left-handed bat with power was one of Giants general manager Brian Sabean’s top priorities this offseason leading into the start of spring training next month in Scottsdale, Ariz. — and one of the final things still on his winter to-do list.
While San Francisco’s pitching has been stellar — led by two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum — upgrading the offense was considered an key step for this club in order to get back to the playoffs after a six-year drought.
The 33-year-old Huff was traded from Baltimore to Detroit in August. He batted .241 with 15 homers and 85 RBIs in 150 games between the two teams.
San Francisco will be eager to have his offensive punch. The Giants ranked 29th out of the 30 major league teams for home runs in 2009 with 122, ahead only of the New York Mets (95). They also were 26th in runs with 657.
With the addition of Huff, manager Bruce Bochy will have options writing his lineup. While Huff is likely to play first and free-swinging slugger Pablo Sandoval probably will stay put at third, there’s been talk of moving Sandoval to first — doable considering Huff also can play third. San Francisco last week re-signed utility infielder Juan Uribe to a $3.25 million, one-year contract, and Sabean said he is expected to play more regularly than his 122 games last season.
Late last month, Mark DeRosa signed a $12 million, two-year contract to join the Giants. He is expected to play left field considering the depth in the infield, but also can play first or third.
Sandoval has been penciled in as the cleanup hitter, so DeRosa and Huff should fit in nicely around him. Huff is a career .282 hitter with 203 homers and 752 RBIs and a .340 on-base percentage in 10 seasons with Tampa Bay, Houston, Baltimore and Detroit.
San Francisco was in the NL wild-card chase well into September but hasn’t been to the postseason since 2003. At 88-74, the Giants won 16 more games than in 2008.
While Sabean said last week he wasn’t sure what to expect from the market the rest of the way, he acknowledged were going to “be strategic, we’re going to be opportunistic.”