The San Francisco Giants have agreed to a two-year, $22 million contract with free-agent first baseman Aubrey Huff.
Huff receives $10 million in each of the next two seasons under the deal, and the Giants have a $10 million club option for 2013 with a $2 million buyout.
"I’ve played nine years of losing baseball for not-so-good teams and this is the most fun I’ve had playing baseball in my life," Huff said. "To be able to come back and try to have a chance to defend this title which we earned this year, and to do it in this great city and this great organization, it’s actually a big moment for me."
”He was an integral part in the team’s success last season, not only with his outstanding play in the field, but also providing a great clubhouse presence,” Giants general manager Brian Sabean said in a statement.
Huff led the world champions in home runs (26) and RBIs (86) this year while batting .290. While he spent time in both outfield corners, first base was his position for a majority of the team’s games.
Bringing back Huff was an important first step in keeping the winning roster largely intact to try to make another deep postseason run.
"There was a big interest out there. But in the end, it wasn’t going to take much to come back here for me," Huff said at AT&T Park. "Some other team would have had to blow me away with like a four-year deal or something and a lot, a lot of dough to stay away from here."
"We paid the piper, and you can’t look back," Sabean added. "He was obviously underpaid for what he did for us last year. … He certainly did his part and received a just reward for it."
He made it clear he wanted to return to San Francisco, and the Giants said they wanted to keep him around — so, no surprise something got done quickly, less than a month after the club beat the Texas Rangers in five games to capture the city’s first championship since the Giants moved West in 1958.
”You’d be an idiot not to want to come back here. I love it,” Huff said at the ballpark after the team’s victory parade Nov. 3.
While Huff and Freddy Sanchez will return at first and second base, respectively, the left side of the San Francisco infield remains unsettled. Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria — who started at third base and shortstop during the World Series — remain unsigned.
"So this may take some time to get sorted out," Sabean said. "I think both parties are willing to do something faster, we’re just not talking the same language in ballpark figures. You have to be patient because we like the player … but you do have to do business at hand and that’s why we’re juggling the trade scenario. I really don’t know what the outside world is going to bring to him offer wise."
San Francisco also has eight arbitration-eligible players. While Sabean has said it would be nice to tender contracts to all, that might not be realistic. Keeping Cody Ross is a priority. The NL championship series MVP, acquired on a waiver claim from Florida on Aug. 22, hit .288 with three homers and seven RBIs in 33 games and emerged as an unlikely postseason star.
"His figure is not going to affect the payroll," Sabean said. "We’re willing to make that sacrifice to see what we can get done."
In addition, third baseman Pablo Sandoval, coming off a down year in his second full major league season, has decided to train in Arizona during the offseason instead of splitting time between the team’s spring training facility and San Diego. The Giants want him to lose weight. The free-swinging Sandoval hit .268 in 2010 with 13 homers and 63 RBIs while striking out 81 times.