Los Angeles Angels outfielder Torii Hunter has not had any discussions with the team regarding his future in Los Angeles. The outfielder will be 37 next season, and his contract runs out after this season. He would like to remain an Angel, but the following quote below from the Orange County Register shows that Torii Hunter knows his time could be up.
“I don’t want to bother those guys,” Torii Hunter said. “They’ve had so much going on. I definitely feel no rush. It’d be nice (to get an extension offer) but if not, I understand….They have other guys like (Erick) Aybar they need to lock up. Plus they’ve got (Mike) Trout lying in the weeds.”
Erick Aybar‘s future also hinges on an emerging prospect, although he doesn’t have a guy like Mike Trout breathing down his neck for more outfield playing time. Vernon Wells isn’t going anywhere- a phrase Angels fans shudder at- so the only way for Trout to get playing time is to get rid of Torii Hunter. He is still a solid, 2.5 WAR player at this age who is capable of a 115 wRC+, but the Angels need to figure out if playing an above-average, veteran right fielder is worth road-blocking a prospect of Trout’s level.
What the Angels need to do is swallow their pride and admit that acquiring OBP killer and all-around terrible left fielder Vernon Wells was a huge mistake. They need to hide him on the bench, move Hunter to left field, and then allow Trout to slot in at right. This is the best line-up possible for the Angels going forward, and they can keep Hunter- a player who is still a solid hitter and has given this franchise his all over the past few years.
Torii Hunter still has something left in the tank, and he is good for a 2.5 WAR year. Wells will be a free agent in 2015, which means that the only time they can ever think about losing him is during the 2014 season at the trade deadline. As such, the Angels should give Hunter a two-year extension for the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
If he is worth 3-4 WAR combined in 2013 and 2014, then he should be making $10-12 million over those two seasons. If he truly wants to stay with the Angels, he will need to take a paycut from $14 million in market value. Torii Hunter still has value to this club and should be re-signed, but only if the Angels are finally willing to realize that it’s better to stuff Wells on the bench than to keep trotting him out there. The team can still play Mike Trout and Torii Hunter in the outfield with Peter Bourjos sandwiched in between them, so an extension for Torii Hunter is feasible. He understands that he could leave L.A., and he would like to go to a contender if this happens. The Angels, however, can keep their right fielder by replacing Wells with him in their starting line-up and allowing his solid bat to speak for itself.