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  • Eyes on Torii

    It was right around this time in 2007 that Torii Hunter officially left the Twins, signing a five-year, $90 million contract with the Angels. That total was more than most people thought he'd get in free agency, and it was widely believed that the Halos had overpaid, but Hunter made good on the deal, hitting .286/.352/.462 while averaging 21 homers over five seasons.

    Hunter just finished up the final year of that contract, and although he missed 22 games this season his production (.313/.365/.451, 16 HR, 92 RBI) suggests that he still has plenty in the tank at age 37. Now he enters free agency for just the second time in his career, and he'll be one of the more interesting guys to follow, especially from a local perspective.

    Naturally, many Twins fans are curious to see whether a reunion between Hunter and Minnesota could happen. He was very popular here and when asked back in May whether he'd be open to returning to the organization that drafted and developed him, the veteran outfielder responded in the affirmative, saying "That's my home."

    Of course, adding outfielders presently ranks near the bottom of Terry Ryan's list of priorities for this offseason. But that could change. What if the Twins were to trade Josh Willingham instead of, or in addition to, Denard Span? Suddenly the team needs a corner outfielder who can bridge the gap to prospects like Oswaldo Arcia and Aaron Hicks; surely Hunter would have to be viewed as an attractive option given that he'll presumably require a short commitment and offers power that could offset the loss of Willingham.

    As Hunter ages into his late 30s, his speed continues to diminish and he's becoming less of an asset defensively, even in right field. Still, from a marketing standpoint, he'd be a familiar star who would appeal to a stagnating fan base, and his right-handed bat would undeniably be a good fit in the Twins' lefty-dominated lineup.

    Will it happen? Probably not. The Twins would need to move several things around to make room for Hunter and he won't be cheap. Nevertheless, it's a fun talker here in the slow early days of the offseason.
    This article was originally published in blog: Eyes on Torii started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 20 Comments
    1. ssmart's Avatar
      ssmart -
      It would be interesting that's for sure. I guess it all depends on what we do with Morneau/Parmlee and Span/Revere/Willingham on the trade market. Hopefully, Hicks will be read to go.
    1. Physics Guy's Avatar
      Physics Guy -
      I've been thinking about the same thing. If they can get him for a yearly salary near Willingham's, I say go for it. This could give them some flexibility in the trade market. If you trade Willingham, Hunter could take LF. If they trade Morneau, then Parmelle plays 1B.
    1. mlhouse's Avatar
      mlhouse -
      I can't believe it was 5 years ago already.

      As far as signing Hunter, I can't see it. I understand the concept of "bridging" to your prospects, but what is the point of that? We would be better off playing the prospects themselves at rookie minimum and getting them experience, rather than paying an old vet significant money to not change the outcome.
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
      I can't believe it was 5 years ago already.

      As far as signing Hunter, I can't see it. I understand the concept of "bridging" to your prospects, but what is the point of that? We would be better off playing the prospects themselves at rookie minimum and getting them experience, rather than paying an old vet significant money to not change the outcome.
      I agree with you. The Twins have too many promising outfield prospects who would be blocked by Hunter. Also, Hunter will be expensive.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      I agree Torii played to his capabilities during his contract but he was still over paid at 90 million. 60-70 million more like it but thats splittin hairs at it wasn't my money.

      But I would like to see Torii and Latroy Hawkins come back next year as Torii can be a borderline Hall of Fame candidate with 3 more seasons and Latroy Hawkins was a favorite of mine.
    1. syves's Avatar
      syves -
      An absolutely rogue idea would be to trade Willingham, Span, AND Morneau for pitching. Sign Hunter, Have Parms play first, and let Benson/Arcia/Hicks vie for the last outfield spot this year.

      There's about a 1% chance of it happening, I don't think the twins have made that many impact trades in the past 10 years combined. If they could get pitchers who can contribute, it fills a lot of holes and frees up a lot of cash to work with.

      This is such a rookie post.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      The Twins could POSSIBLY be one or two years away from competing. Unless Torii got zlich in offers elsewhere, and this would basically be his good-bye tour, he'll sign elsewhere. His numbers have been consistent enough that he should find a nice 2-year contract with an option for a third year. The Twins current status of being competitive is what will hurt them. They HAVE TO sign some pitchers, make a decision on Willingham/Span/Revere (quickly) and then continue to fill in the blanks. Until they have someone more worthy than just Diamond pencilled into the rotation, they aren't a prime candidate to attract talent....really. I ask that question again: Why would you want to play for the Twins, today, right now, compared to anywhere else?
    1. Monkeypaws's Avatar
      Monkeypaws -
      Who are the teams that come up when looking for trade partners for Span: Atlanta?

      If I'm them I go after Hunter/Cabrera/etc. instead of trading something away.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Torii represents the past--a very fine past, but the past. We can wax nostolgic over his nightly web gems but the Twins need to move to the future. Torrii can help an already playoff team (one with deep pockets), but the Twins aren't in that category.
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      What's Hunter's value at this point, two-years at 20-25 million?
    1. crapforks's Avatar
      crapforks -
      Everything would have to fall into place. Willingham would have to be desired by another team at the cost of pitching, Span would have to be moved for pitching, and Torii would have to find himself without a more attractive suitor late in the free-agent period. It isn't likely, it's extremely unlikely, but daydreaming about the positive/negative influence he could have on Rever is fun.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by Monkeypaws View Post
      Who are the teams that come up when looking for trade partners for Span: Atlanta?

      If I'm them I go after Hunter/Cabrera/etc. instead of trading something away.
      Atlanta is interested in Hunter, but they need a CF/leadoff hitter to replace Bourne, that's why there is interest in Span.
    1. Physics Guy's Avatar
      Physics Guy -
      Quote Originally Posted by syves View Post
      An absolutely rogue idea would be to trade Willingham, Span, AND Morneau for pitching. Sign Hunter, Have Parms play first, and let Benson/Arcia/Hicks vie for the last outfield spot this year.

      There's about a 1% chance of it happening, I don't think the twins have made that many impact trades in the past 10 years combined. If they could get pitchers who can contribute, it fills a lot of holes and frees up a lot of cash to work with.

      This is such a rookie post.
      Another rookie agrees with you. I would amend it to keep Span. Trade Willingham and Morneau if you can sign Hunter for 2yrs and between 16 and 18M. Don't do it if he is in the 20-25M range. I like the Revere-Span-Hunter OF with Parmelle at 1B. This gives us a MUCH better defensive OF, allows us to pick up some pitching and possibly clear some money to go after additional FA. As Gleeman would say, there is a non-zero chance of that happening. It's fun to speculate, despite it being VERY unlikely. Also, having Torii around when Hicks and Arcia come up would be great.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Torii? The Twins don't need another outfielder (and old and who broke some bridges when he left)

      Now, if the Mets are willing to eat half of Johan's contract for 2013 (his last season), it is a different story...
    1. Montecore's Avatar
      Montecore -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      Torii? The Twins don't need another outfielder (and old and who broke some bridges when he left)

      Now, if the Mets are willing to eat half of Johan's contract for 2013 (his last season), it is a different story...
      Forget Toriii. It would make the Twins look like the Angels of old signing washed up veterans only "Please, lover come back!" worse in the shadow of the Dodgers winning championships. If he was a pitcher who could still pitch a la Blyleven in late '86 - it'd be different.
    1. OldManWinter's Avatar
      OldManWinter -
      Does not serve any real purpose here. Spend $$$$ on something/someone else.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports that the Tigers and Rangers are interested in Torii Hunter.

      Knobler says the Tigers are "very interested" and view Hunter as "almost a perfect fit in their lineup, in the field and also in the clubhouse." Hunter expects to sign with someone quickly and says his only concern is winning a World Series. Detroit and Texas are certainly fits in that regard. The Braves, Phillies and Red Sox also have interest, while the Yankees and Dodgers are seen as less likely destinations for the 37-year-old outfielder
    1. ltwedt's Avatar
      ltwedt -
      Sign Hunter??? How does that make the Twins Better???
    1. Physics Guy's Avatar
      Physics Guy -
      Quote Originally Posted by ltwedt View Post
      Sign Hunter??? How does that make the Twins Better???
      That depends of what you think they could get for Willingham. I would argue that Willingham had a career year and isn't likely to repeat it. If you can get a young middle of the rotation starter for Willingham and sign Hunter to replace him, I say go for it. Hunter's WAR last three years: 2.7, 3.4, 5.5. Willingham's: 2.6, 2.1, 2.9. Hunter doesn't suck in the OF and can still hit. If they can sign Hunter for 8-10M a year, it costs a net of 1-3M a year and potentially gains a pitcher in the process that the Twins don't seem to be willing to sign in FA (at least if the Baker deal is any indication - I know it's early yet). I'll repeat, I don't see this happening in the slightest, but I think it would improve the team.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quote Originally Posted by Physics Guy View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by ltwedt View Post
      Sign Hunter??? How does that make the Twins Better???
      That depends of what you think they could get for Willingham. I would argue that Willingham had a career year and isn't likely to repeat it. If you can get a young middle of the rotation starter for Willingham and sign Hunter to replace him, I say go for it. Hunter's WAR last three years: 2.7, 3.4, 5.5. Willingham's: 2.6, 2.1, 2.9. Hunter doesn't suck in the OF and can still hit. If they can sign Hunter for 8-10M a year, it costs a net of 1-3M a year and potentially gains a pitcher in the process that the Twins don't seem to be willing to sign in FA (at least if the Baker deal is any indication - I know it's early yet). I'll repeat, I don't see this happening in the slightest, but I think it would improve the team.
      This is a good point, but it seems like there are too many moving parts to be plausible. Which isn't to say that I wouldn't like to see it happen.
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