D-Rays keep Huff in the fold

Updated: January 8, 2004, 9:49 PM ET
Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Aubrey Huff was rewarded Thursday for being one of two AL players to finish among the top 10 in all three triple crown categories when he agreed to a $14.5 million, three-year contract to remain with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Aubrey Huff

The 27-year-old infielder/outfielder hit .311 with 34 homers and a franchise-record 107 RBIs in 2003, his first full season in the majors. He also set club records for hits (198), doubles (47), extra-base hits (84), total bases (353), runs scored (91), intentional walks (17) and slugging percentage (.555).

Huff received a $500,000 signing bonus and will earn salaries of $2.5 million in 2004, $4.75 million in 2005 and $6.75 million in 2006. The deal is the largest the Devil Rays have given to one of their homegrown players.

General manager Chuck LaMar called it a historic day for the franchise in that Huff's contract demonstrates a commitment by the organization to "find and develop and keep the talented young players that this town and this organization has waited so long for."

Huff and Toronto's Vernon Wells were the only AL players to finish in the top 10 in batting average, home runs and RBIs last season. His streak of 275 consecutive games played in the second-longest in the majors behind Baltimore's Miguel Tejada.

Only 11 players -- Lou Gehrig (1927), Rogers Hornsby (1929), Chuck Klein (1930, 1932), Babe Herman (1930), Hank Greenberg (1937), Frank Robinson (1962), Don Mattingly (1985), Alex Rodriguez (1996), Albert Belle (1998), Todd Helton (2000) and Albert Pujols (2003) -- have matched Huff's numbers for hits, doubles, homers and RBIs in the same season.

"Not only has he been durable, he's been productive," Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said. "He can hit three, four or five in any lineup."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press