Valuing the 2011 free agent class: Aubrey Huff

Victor Martinez

Cliff Lee

Jayson Werth

To me, Aubrey Huff is one of the more intriguing free agent cases of the off-season. He is coming off a mega-productive season in which he posted a 145 wRC+ and 5.7 WAR in 157 games. But in 2009 he was arguably the worst player in baseball with a -1.4 WAR in 150 games. Moreover, he’ll be turning 34 and one figures he won’t be able to replicate his 2010 results. But he certainly deserves a good raise from the $3mil he made in 2010 ($3mil! HE might have been the bargain of the 2009 off-season). Yet how much can you pay an old 1b/DH type player?

A good comp in my opinion is Jason Kubel. Earlier in the off-season the Twins picked up his $5.25mil option. In my opinion, Huff is the better hitter and is a little bit more valuable at 1b than Kubel is at DH. But Kubel is younger and has more potential to become a great hitter, whereas Huff has maxed out. So Huff should earn more than Kubel’s $5.25mil, but not too much more. Huff has also played in 150+ in every season but one going back to 2003, so he is reliable and durable. With that in mind, I would be comfortable giving Huff a multi-year deal, but not for too many years because he is getting old.

In my estimation, I think should get two years and he can be a 2.5-3WAR player in those two years. If he is a 3 WAR player in 2011 with a win being worth $4.5 and a 2.5 WAR player in 2012 with a win worth $5mil, that would mean he is worth $26mil over two years or $13mil per year. At first I thought that would be too much in reality. He’s never made that much per season in his career- a career in which he has been a good player- and he is old now. Someone like Lance Berkman who has a better track record surely won’t be seeing $13mil per year. But so far the 2011 market has seen a lot of “handsome salaries”. The Reds exercised an $11.5mil option on Bronson Arroyo, an average pitcher just a couple months younger than Huff. What’s more is that the Reds might extend him at around $12mil per season for three years. So in the current market, Huff very well could be paid $13mil per year. Another similar player is David Ortiz, who was picked up at $12.5mil.

At the end of the day, I expect Huff to sign a two year deal worth around $10-$13mil a year with inflated salaries in the current market thus far.

 

I plan on doing Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre shortly, but I’ve been short on time of late.

 

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