Eyes on Torii
by, 11-11-2012 at 11:41 PM (909 Views)
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.