Former All Star and Gold Glove CF Torii Hunter signed a two year deal with the defending American League Champion Detroit Tigers earlier this offseason. It will be Hunter’s third team in his superb 14 year career. He spent the first nine years of his career with the Minnesota Twins, followed by the last five years with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He had one of, if not his best season of his career just last season in which he batted a career high .313 with 16 home runs and 92 RBI. Hunter’s first choice was to re-sign with the Angels, a feeling he claims was not mutual.
Hunter stated that Angels, GM Jerry Dipoto made a feeble attempt to resign him by only offering him a one year deal worth $5 mil. Dipoto’s reasoning was that the Angels were hamstrung by Vernon Wells horrid contract which they willingly absorbed 100% of when they traded C Mike Napoli to Toronto in January 2011 (who was subsequently flipped to Texas four days later for RP Frank Francisco). Wells is in the final year of a seven year, $126 mil backloaded contract which he signed with Toronto at the end of the 2006 season. Hunter took it as face valued and apparently believed Dipoto given the fact that the Angels also did not resign All Star SP Zach Greinke and declined SP Dan Haren‘s $15.5 mil option for the 2013 season, choosing instead to buy him out for $3.5 mil.
However, when the Angels inked free agent CF and former All Star and MVP, Josh Hamilton to a 5 year deal worth $125 mil, Hunter was surprised to say the least. Hunter was quoted as saying:
“Just tell me straight up that you don’t want me and I’ll be fine with that. Business is business but don’t lie.”
Do I think the Angels misled Hunter and lied to him? No. The moves with Haren and Greinke appeared to be done to keep the budget to a certain amount. The Angels were not in the mix with Hamilton from the beginning and only jumped in when other teams started to drop like flies. They did the same thing last season with Albert Pujols. I do think they wanted to move on from Hunter for whatever reasons they may have had. I can see where Hunter is coming from though. He wanted to return to the Angels and when he was told that money was tight, he was shocked when they handed out that kind of money to Josh Hamilton. Hunter though, is in a very good situation. He will likely hit in the two hole, right in front of defending AL MVP, Miguel Cabrera and ALL Star 1B, Prince Fielder. Both the Angels and Tigers figure to be in a great position to represent the American League in the 2013 World Series.