In 2002, the Rays finished with an abysmal record of 55-106 to put the floundering franchise at an all-time low. Following the season, the team traded one of their lone stars before he became too expensive for a hot-headed manager and a prospect, so an already low fan support shrunk even lower.
But then, in 2003, the team had a core of young stars show up and excite the remaining fan base as Rocco Baldelli and Carl Crawford dazzled in the field and provided constant threats on the basepaths. However, one more young star had begun to emerge as a 26 year old Aubrey Huff began to pummel opposing pitching. He played in all 162 games that year and either batted clean-up or third in the order. Over the season, he slashed .311/.367/.555 with 34 home runs.
The season remains among the franchise's all-time best as he either tied or set many records for the club.
Now, flash forward to 2012, Huff had just helped the San Francisco Giants win their second world series in three years. However, Huff wasn't much for celebrating as he had dealt with crippling anxiety attacks throughout the season, along with depression.
Once the season was over, Huff became a free agent, but didn't wish to play the game any longer as he was convinced it was the root of his problems. In early 2014, he officially retired.
Now, after countless hours of rehabilitation, Aubrey Huff would like to return to the game and according to Marc Topkin, he'd like to do it with the team that gave him his first chance.
"I keep telling my trainer and my wife, for whatever reason I keep seeing myself in a Rays uniform.''
Huff has earned several awards and honors throughout his career, including the two world series victories, as well as a Silver Slugger award following his 2008 campaign with Baltimore. Huff also managed to hit for the cycle with Baltimore. Early on in his professional career, Huff was placed among the top 100 prospects in the game by Baseball America as he was placed 98th in 1999 and 43rd following the 2000 season.
Overall over his 13 year long career, Huff slashed .278/.342/.464 with 242 home runs, with 128 of those coming for the Rays from 2000 until July, 2006 when he was dealt to the Astros for Ben Zobrist and Mitch Talbot.
If the Rays did give Huff the chance, it'd be a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. Huff will turn 39 in December, and would pretty much serve on the left side of a DH platoon, but there's always a chance that Huff could provide an old spark to the Rays lineup.