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Michael Aubrey to Orioles for Cash

Michael AubreyA small deal floated across the transaction wires today. The Orioles have acquired first baseman Michael Aubrey from the Indians for a player to be named later. Aubrey is a former first round pick of the Indians, but is yet to blossom into the hitter he was expected to be. At 27 years old, it is doubtful he will ever become that hitter. This year in AAA, Aubrey is batting .292, but with only 5 home runs and a .770 OPS - hardly numbers that would be expected from a first baseman picked in the first round.

Why is this a deal worth writing about then? It may be the opening bell for this year's trade deadline. Aubrey adds depth at first base for Baltimore, which is going nowhere this year in the brutal AL East. They are one of the few teams who already know they will be sellers at the deadline. Also, Baltimore's current first baseman, Aubrey Huff, figures to be one of the better hitters available at the deadline. The Michael Aubrey deal could signal that the Orioles are now more than ready to move Aubrey Huff if they find the right deal.

The Orioles have been irrelevant in the East for nearly a decade, but that should begin to change. Their outfield features great young talents in Nick Markakis and Adam Jones. Catcher should be set for a very long with Matt Wieters. Last year's first round pick, Brian Matusz, is already in AA, and Chris Tillman is even closer to the majors. Both should be good starting pitchers for a long time. An Aubrey Huff trade would not reshape the franchise, but adding one or two more quality pieces to the young core the Orioles already have could make them a team that opens eyes in 2010 or 2011.