Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Fallout From Torii Hunter Signing

The Twins finally made an off-season move that didn't involve hiring a new manager or adding to the coaching staff. It was announced on Tuesday night that the Twins and outfielder Torii Hunter had come to an agreement on a one-year, $10.5 million contract. Minnesota needed to fill a hole in the outfield so they can check that off their off-season to-do list.

When it was first rumored that the Twins were interested in bringing back Hunter for a reunion tour, I made it known that I thought the move wouldn't make sense. This club is young and rebuilding so the addition of a 40-year old corner outfielder with depleting defensive skills didn't seem like it should be a high priority. There are younger players that need to be in the line-up and Hunter will take at-bats away from them.

There were plenty of heightened emotions from Twins fans on Twitter as the news broke. On one side of the argument was the fans that are happy to see number 48 back in a Twins uniform. It seems fitting that Hunter can end his career where he started. The opposing group thinks the Twins paid too much money for a reunion tour with a player on the decline. There are also some people that fall in the middle of these two sides.

The best part about the Hunter deal might be the fact that it is only for one year. Minnesota isn't locked into multiple years and he doesn't seem to be blocking the path of any prospects getting to the big leagues. If Hunter catches fire and gets off to a decent start, the Twins could trade him to a contending club in July before his deal expires at season's end.

It will also be nice for Hunter to get time to work with Aaron Hicks and Byron Buxton. Both of these first round picks were around the last time Hunter was in a Twins uniform. In fact, Buxton was three-years old when Hunter left Minnesota. Hicks has struggled during his time at the big leagues and Buxton is coming off an injury plagued year. Hunter's influence over both of these players could be huge.

Throughout his career, Hunter has credited a lot of his success to what he learned under the tutelage of Twins legend Kirby Puckett. "He taught me everything," said Hunter in an interview while playing with the Detroit Tigers. This influence will be a welcome addition to the clubhouse. Even if Hunter's time is limited with the Twins this year, he will have all of spring and the start of the season to impart some of the lessons he learned from "Puck."

I wasn't in favor of the signing when the rumors first started swirling and I still don't feel great about the deal now that it is in place. However, the Twins needed an outfielder and I'm of the opinion that no one-year contracts are bad deals. Hunter has things to offer to the Twins in 2015 but he just isn't the route I would have taken.

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