Tigers get their bat, add Huff from Orioles

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It was quite a surprise that the Tigers didn’t add any offense at all before the deadline, but they had the strategy right: acquire pitching then, because quality arms are less likely to slide during the waiver process, and pick up some offensive help in August. On Monday, they got Aubrey Huff from the Orioles, adding another left-handed middle-of-the-order option, in return for Brett Jacobson.
Now that Carlos Guillen should be able to head out to left field once in a while, Huff fits in as a DH against righties. Clete Thomas and Marcus Thames stand to lose at-bats. Thomas has faded to .208/.322/.312 in 77 at-bats since the All-Star break, and Thames is only truly valuable against lefties anyway. Huff’s .253/.321/.405 line for the season is unimpressive, but he has rebounded some after an awful July and he’ll only need to play against righties in Detroit. He should be an asset.
Jacobson, 21, was a fourth-round pick by the Tigers last season. Strictly a reliever, he’s posted a 3.74 ERA and a 44/17 K/BB ratio in 55 1/3 innings for Single-A Lakeland this season. He’s been particularly good of late, pitching 13 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run in his last nine appearances. Unfortunately, his fastball-curveball combination hasn’t made him very effective against left-handed hitters. He currently projects as more of a middle reliever than a true setup man.
With Huff out of the mix, the Orioles could give Luke Scott a crash course at first base in order to see whether he’ll be an option there next year. Felix Pie figures to get additional playing time in left field, with Nolan Reimold serving as a DH more frequently. If the Orioles want to stick with the same personnel, then Ty Wigginton and Melvin Mora would also be due some extra playing time. However, the Orioles could call up first baseman Rhyne Hughes, who was just acquired from the Rays to complete the Gregg Zaun deal. The 25-year-old Hughes offers 20-homer power and a strong glove at first base. He’s hit .313/.361/.533 in 56 games in Triple-A this year. It’s doubtful that he’d hit for average in the majors, since he does strike out a ton, but he’s earned a look anyway.
The trade shouldn’t have any long-term ramifications. Huff is a free agent at season’s end, and the Orioles probably wouldn’t have risked offering him arbitration in order to land a draft pick if he left. It’s still possible that Huff could return to Baltimore as a free agent, though it’d likely have to be on a one-year deal.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.