Pending free agent Torii Hunter has expressed interest in staying with the Angels after this season according to a Los Angeles Times article published earlier today. Hunter, who turned 37 in July, remains a useful player, having hit .305/.357/.444 in 2012 en route to contributing 4.4 WAR, second among all Angel position players to only rookie phenom Mike Trout.
Hunter states that he’s sensing a mutual interest from the club in regarding a return to Anaheim, but any new deal worked out between the two sides would obviously pale in comparison to the five-year, $90 million deal he will be completing at the end of this season. The nine-time Gold Glove outfielder has done a fine job of earning his contract with the Angels, hitting .284/.351/.461 since signing the deal before the start of the 2008 season. Keeping the veteran’s bat around at a reduced price may actually be a pretty shrewd move for the Angels, who have much more in the way of outfield depth than outfield talent.
The Angels are rumored to be shopping both Vernon Wells and his massive contract as well as Peter Bourjos this off-season, so in the event one or both are traded, Hunter may have a more defined role with the team other than providing them with a bench bat and possible insurance. With recently signed Albert Pujols set to earn markedly more money in the coming seasons and the aforementioned Wells’ contract — which still has two years remaining on it — still on the books, Los Angeles may not want to pay Hunter much, but they likely won’t have to, and provided he’s used selectively, he’s shown he can still be a very nice player to have around.