NPB Tracker just posted a report from the The Chugoku Shimbun that Justin Huber is close to signing a contract with the Hiroshima Carp. This week, Huber was taken off of the 40-man roster and was sent outright to Triple-A. The Carp then put in a request for Huber which, according to the report, was accepted immediately.
The Twins letting Huber go doesn't make a lot of sense to me. For starters, the Rochester Red Wings were a pretty bad team last season and Huber was a fan-favorite who lead the club in home runs, RBI and batting average. And on top of winning the Red Wings' Triple Crown, Huber was named an I.L. All-Star and competed in the home run derby in which he provided the night's longest home run (438 feet). That doesn't mean he should be untouchable, but ripping a player like Huber away from the Red Wings will definitely hurt the team.
He also provides depth at both the corner outfield and first base, two positions the Twins need depth. At first thought, you'd probably disagree. But there's going to be some concern over Justin Morneau's injury and whether or not Delmon Young finally turns a leaf in left field, Huber would have been an adequate replacement. Unfortunately, the Twins didn't feel Huber was valuable enough to keep around and will probably come to an agreement of a modest dollar amount.
Hopefully the Twins find a replacement that can fill Huber's shoes down in Rochester. I know they are going to be full in the outfield and could rely heavily on David Winfree at first base (if he's re-signed), but I still think that keeping a guy like that around when there's uncertainty regarding the depth is a positive.
I've always nagged on the Twins for blocking prospects with older non-prospect players in the minor leagues, but I always took this situation as an exception. The Red Wings will likely be very young and inexperienced again next season, which could keep Rochester out of contention in the I.L. North for the second consecutive season.