Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Signing Torii Hunter Doesn't Make Sense

There are a few items on the Twins off-season checklist. Starting pitching seems to be the Twins biggest priority but the club also has a hole to fill in the outfield. The club likely won't be pushing for any of the big names on the outfield free agent list but that doesn't mean the club couldn't look to add a veteran free agent for this role.

Reports came out at the beginning of this week that the Twins have expressed interest in signing free agent outfielder Torii Hunter. It seems that Hunter's preference would be to return to the Tigers or another squad that will be in contention next season. If none of those teams make him a decent offer, he could be more willing to finish his career back where he started in Minnesota.

Hunter's offensive skills have aged fairly well. Over the last three seasons in Detroit and Los Angeles, he's hit .301/.339/.455 while averaging 17 home runs, 31 doubles, and 86 RBI. While his offense has continued to be strong, his defense in right field took a turn for the worst last season. He's now considered below average in a corner outfield which is a far cry from the Gold Glove caliber defense he played in Minnesota.

It doesn't seem likely for the Twins, a team that has lost at least 92 games in the last four seasons, to be in contention in 2015. Hunter turned 39-years old in July which means he will be 40 after next year's All-Star break. What benefits would there be from having a 19-year veteran on next year's Twins roster?

The Twins are in a rebuilding mode and Hunter's presence on next year's roster would mean lost at-bats for other younger player the Twins could be trialing at the big league level. Hunter would need time in the outfield and at DH which could mean fewer at-bats for the likes of Oswaldo Arcia, Kennys Vargas, and Josmil Pinto. These younger players need to be in the line-up everyday and not fighting for at-bats with an aging veteran.

Hunter's leadership would be a welcome addition to the clubhouse especially under first year manager Paul Molitor. However other players on the Twins roster like Brian Dozier and Glen Perkins have taken on leadership roles over the last couple seasons. The addition of another voice in the clubhouse might be too many voices to listen to for the younger Twins team.

During the beginning of last season, the Twins brought in a variety of different players from their division title years to fight for spots on the roster. Jason Kubel, Matt Guerrier, and Jason Bartlett all made the team out of spring training but none of them made a significant impact during the season. They would all be jettison before the middle of June. Hunter has played better than those players but the Twins don't exactly have a positive track record in bringing in former players.

This team might be taking some bumps and bruises in the early part of the season with a new manager and a younger roster. That's fine because the overall goal is to get back to playing winning baseball. Gaining experience for the young core of talent is what is going to get this team back on the right track.

Hunter will not be part of the next winning team in Minnesota so let's hope the organization doesn't bring him back for a reunion tour.

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