An interesting article today from Rob Bradford of WEEI.com has the notion that Torii Hunter, right fielder for the Los Angeles Angels would be open to signing in Boston this off season when he hits the free-agent market. Hunter tells Bradford that he’s open to possibly signing anywhere including Boston, although his main goal is to stay in LA.
Considering the Red Sox just traded away Carl Crawford, there may be an opening in the outfield that Hunter could fill. With all indications pointing towards a multi-year deal between Cody Ross and the Red Sox, Hunter’s main positions of right or center field may be unavailable. There is still the hole in left field that could come down to a Spring Training showdown between players like Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish. Throw in the possible candidates of Scott Podsednik and Ryan Sweeney and suddenly Hunter appears as an outside chance if both of the aforementioned players return, which is unlikely.
Hunter cites his relationship with David Ortiz as one of the main reasons he would sign in Boston. The two were roommates when they both played for the Minnesota Twins in what feels like ages ago. Hunter said Big Papi is one of his best friends in baseball and if Ortiz returns to Boston, that would make the scenario even more attractive.
While it is nice to hear players like Hunter could have the desire to come to Boston, there is the lingering question, do the Red Sox need or even want a player like Torii Hunter?
He’s coming off a 5-year, $90MM deal and will be 38-years old next July. He would likely sign at a discount considering he only has a year or two left in his career, meaning the Sox could maybe sign him for one year at $10MM.
He owns a career line of .275/.334/.465/.799 and has hit twenty or more home runs in ten of his sixteen professional seasons. An interesting stat is that he’s only hit 30 home runs once in his career and that was back in 2006 when he played for the Twins. His career numbers at Fenway are impressive, making this case more intriguing. Hunter is a career .330 hitter at Fenway with an OPS of .869, not too shabby.
This season, Hunter is enjoying a solid year at the plate, at least from a slash line perspective: .298/.351/.433/.784 through 110 games. He only has 12 home runs and has driven in 64 RBI, still making him a threat at the plate. He is a 9-time Gold Glove winner, proving his defense is superior in the outfield when compared to his peers.
Maybe signing Hunter and having him platoon the outfield isn’t such a bad idea if the price is right. There has been a lot of talk lately about the future of Jacoby Ellsbury and with the 2103 season potentially being his last in Boston. Hunter and Ross could help bridge the gap to the 2014 season when a prospect like Jackie Bradley Jr. is ready to step into the big leagues and the former Twins all-star can help with that process.
There are not going to be a lot of options in the free-agent market for Ben to go out and secure a superstar outfielder. Overpaying for Josh Hamilton is an option although it wouldn’t make a lot of financial sense considering what we just encountered not even two weeks ago.
Trading for a player like Justin Upton is also a possibility, but that’s going to cost the Sox some prospects and the time and need is to now build from within the organization where you can. Signing Hunter would allow some minor league talent to bud a little more before proving they are ready to contribute on an everyday basis, Kalish included. So the first thing that needs to happen is for the Sox to resign Ortiz, then make the call to Torii Hunter shortly after that during the winter months and bring him to Boston.
Maybe having a player choose Boston will ignite a windfall of future free-agents to follow suit, showing that this isn’t a bad place to play.