We have a breaking news story that is sure to throw a wrench into my plans of taking a short break right now. Ken Rosenthal reported earlier, and now ESPN is reporting that the Rays have dealt Huff to the Houston Astros for two minor leaguers, Ben Zobrist and Mitch Talbot.
The move brings a spectacular end to a tenure that has spanned parts of seven seasons with the Rays for Huff. He leaves as the Rays' all-time leader in Home Runs, RBI, Games, At Bats, Runs Scored, Hits, Doubles, and Total Bases, and leads many of those categories by a wide margin. Huff, propelled by a recent hot streak, saw his trade value soar, hitting .283/.348/.461 on the season, driven by a line of .402/.433/.680 over the last month. His contract, which expires after the season, and his previous production, a .283/.343/.477 career line, have long made him a heavily rumored trading piece, and that extends back over the last three deadlines. His expiring contract made trading him a must, and the quick trigger of the new front office meant he had to go.
Acquired for Huff were Astros minor leaguers Ben Zobrist and Mitch Talbot. Also rumored pieces of the deal were $1.6 million in cash being Western Unioned to Houston (if they still even do that). Ty Wigginton is expected to take over Huff's position at third base, which may mean Travis Lee will be back in the starting lineup. It is unclear who will be called up to take Huff's place.
The two prospects acquired, Zobrist and Talbot, were 16th and 26th, respectively, on the Astros' Top 30 prospect list done by Baseball America. Zobrist was hitting .327/.434/.473 for the Astros' Double A Corpus Christi affiliate, whose home ballpark tends to favor pitchers.
Talbot, meanwhile, was 6-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 18 games, 17 starts with the Double A Hooks, with a 96:29 K/BB, although he had a rather high 1.36 WHIP. Both players have already reported to Double A Montgomery, according to MiLB.com.
May I be the first to say 'meh' on this deal. I don't think anyone particularly wins in this trade. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want, or expect, a better return on a Huff trade, but you take what you can get. Never bank on something better coming along, because after July 31st, we weren't getting anything for Huff, not draft picks, nothing. In that regard, getting something is good.
All of that, plus Zobrist and Talbot aren't prospects to yawn at. By no means are they Brandon Wood and Jeremy Sowers, but they are fine ballplayers that will compliment our farm system nicely. Zobrist has average tools, except for power, of which he has none, and will be a high-OBP type guy, nothing wrong with that, while Talbot shows outstanding control to make up for underwhelming stuff.
So in a capsule, I don't think this trade will be a steal, but rather just a good 'ole fashioned 'no one wins, each guy gets what they want'-type trade. Houston gets a lift in Huff for the stretch run, similar to the Carlos Beltran acquisition two years ago, albeit with much less talent and return, and the Rays get two young players. A decent, if unspectacular move, in my opinion.
So here is you place, for now, on the Bay to comment about the trade. I have recapped every angle of this deal as we now know it, and will be updating here throughout the day with additional info as it becomes available. One big question, who will replace Huff on the Roster? That will be known later. Once all full details are known, I will post a transaction report, likely tonight.
But just to recap, Aubrey Huff has been traded to the Houston Astros for two minor leaguers.
Update [2006-7-12 13:10:52 by Patrick L. Kennedy]: Apparently we have our answer to the "Who will take Huff's roster spot?" $1,000,000 question. Andrew Friedman was quoted as saying that it will be Ruddy Lugo, back from a DL stint with the Visalia Oaks. To me, this move makes no sense, whatsoever. They are just going to leave Jackson to rot in the bullpen? Who there missed the memo that he isn't good? He was never good at any point this season, and no bullshit about him having a "live arm" can obscure that fact. He had an ERA over 6 in Durham, he has an ERA over 6 here. Keeping him here does no good, none. He does not belong in a major league bullpen. Cut the crap with the yo-yo approach. Make him a starter or relief pitcher, and whichever you choose, stick him in that role for the rest of the season in Durham. It is that simple.