Free agent outfielder Torii Hunter appeared on MLB Network on Monday morning and said he expects his current run of unemployment will end sooner rather than later.
Danny Knobler of CBS Sports lists the Tigers and Rangers as the most likely destinations for the 37-year-old former Angel and Twin. Hunter told Knobler back in Spring Training that his next contract won’t be about the money, but about getting his first World Series ring. Hunter has never played in the Fall Classic.
The Tigers see Hunter as a near-perfect fit in their lineup, their outfield, and their clubhouse. Detroit battled through major issues in their corner outfield positions to win the AL pennant in 2012 and the addition of Hunter would go a long way toward solidifying at least one of those positions. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski has said that a corner outfield bat would be on eof his club’s top priorities this Winter. At the same time, Hunter’s age eliminates the need for a long-term contract and allows the Tigers to continue to develop top prospects Nick Castellanos and Avisail Garcia in the minor leagues.
If the Tigers were to land Hunter, he would join a lineup that already features Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder and will also see the return of Victor Martinez in 2013. Slotting a professional hitter like Hunter into either the second slot or the six-hole would only serve to lengthen an already strong lineup.
The Rangers, of course, also boast one of the better lineups in baseball, but it looks more and more likely that they move forward without former MVP Josh Hamilton and catcher Mike Napoli. Take Hamilton and Napoli out of the Rangers’ order and it’s no where near as formidable, even if you add Hunter to offset some of the lost production. The Rangers sport a very good pitching staff, but so do the Tigers and Detroit has far fewer questions about their team right now.
If Hunter is looking for his best opportunity for a ring, joining a club in Detroit where he’s replacing Brennan Boesch and his .659 OPS has to be a lot more attractive than trying to make up for the probable loss of more than 65 home runs in Texas.