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  • Torii Hunter is Returning to the Twins


    Seth Stohs

    According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the Minnesota Twins have won the Torii Hunter sweepstakes. The long-time Twins outfielder will return to the Twins on a one-year contract. Further reports indicate it is worth $10.5 million. (More details to come, but feel free to discuss.)

    Image courtesy of Andrew Weber, USA Today

    The Minnesota Twins have apparently agreed to terms with 39-year-old outfielder Torii Hunter on a one-year contract.

    The outfielder was the Twins #1 draft pick in 1993 and made his debut with the Twins in 1997. He stayed with the Twins until he became a free agent after the 2007 season. He signed a five year, $90 million deal with the Angels. After that contract, the Tigers signed him for the past two years.

    Last week in a 1500 ESPN interview with Patrick Reusse, new Twins bullpen coach Eddie Guardado acknowledged that he and his family was in Texas and had dinner a couple of nights in a row with Hunter and his family. He said at that time, "I'm trying!"

    Hunter is likely being brought in for veteran leadership, or at least that's what will be the mantra we are likely to hear. Though he has been arguably the worst defensive right fielder in baseball (statistically) the last two seasons, he has hit well. In fact, in 2013, he won a Silver Slugger Award.

    Darren Wolfson pointed out last week that he heard that if the Twins signed Hunter, he would play right field with Oswaldo Arcia moving back over to left field.

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    Welcome back Torii! I never wanted him to leave in the first place and I wanted him to come back sooner. I was indifferent on whether he came back at this point as the Twins are rebuilding, but it'll be good to see him in the line up again. He has been a consistent hitter throughout his career and I hope he can continue hitting around .300 and be clutch for the Twins like he has been throughout his career.

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    Seriously? And for ten million dollars? We're not going to make back ten million dollars in the tickets Torii will sell to old fans of the Piranhas who have long since stopped caring about coming to the ballgames. I still like Torii as a player (even though he's not very good) and I do hope he can serve as a mentor to the younger outfielders.

     

    ...But damn, we could have spent ten million on a much more worthwhile player (read: pitcher) than Torii Hunter.

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    This is so much more than bringing back an aging OF to the Twins, who have been without a real team leader since Morneau left. Before then it was Cuddy--who did a good job--but not since Torii left have we had that charismatic leader to fire up the troops, take the pressure off the young kids, and flash the smile that let Twins fans know things will be all right. Maybe he will help Molitor light a fire under Mauer. Torii is such a class act that, even if he is beyond his prime, it is a great deal for us fans. After watching Willingham and Delmon attempt to play LF, I look forward to watching Torii once again. Great move.

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    The really frustrating thing is Rasmus is still available and probably signs about the same deal.

     

    11 years younger. Can play all 3 positions, which could be valuable as you want hicks on the corner if he turns it around (not our long term cf) Or flexibility if Rosario or buxton light it up.

     

    Probably the same stick with much better defense. And you get a pick next year when he leaves.

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    That's assuming that Rasmus signs a 1 year deal....then declines $13-15M dollar arbitration deal.

     

    The really frustrating thing is Rasmus is still available and probably signs about the same deal.

    11 years younger. Can play all 3 positions, which could be valuable as you want hicks on the corner if he turns it around (not our long term cf) Or flexibility if Rosario or buxton light it up.

    Probably the same stick with much better defense. And you get a pick next year when he leaves.

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    I'm not thrilled with this news. Like many I like Torii but not for a return to MN. The cost is suspect and the OF defense has not been addressed. As far as mentoring Buxton, that will be hard if Buxton's in the minors. Generally I've defended the front office but IMO they blew this one.

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    Ahhh... the Prodigal Son returns.

     

    I can't wait to see him hit .265, with 13HR's and playing substandard RF...

     

    but...

     

    ...that is too negative - although a lot of us feel Hunter has his personality flaws and the media blows out of proportion his good guy/awesome clubhouse presence bit - I do think this could be of some benefit to the younger players. Although he is no longer an elite defensive player, let alone an average one at that - I do think he can be a good teacher and lend some good advice to our young outfielders and other players as well. Even though he cannot do the things he once did as an outfielder, mentally his vision should not have deteriorated, he has knowledge to share, he might be like an extra coach?

     

    Who knows - maybe he will hit 20HR's, have a .780OPS, get by in the outfield and be a good part of congealing this group of young players into a unit that is ready to make the attack in 2016, maybe we can even play .500 ball this season.

     

    I'm gonna roll the dice optimistically today. Worse moves could have been made.

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    I'm with you all on Torii being half-the-player he was and the thought of him on one side on an unknown and Arcia on the other makes me tremble as much as any pitcher in the rotation who is unable to throw a strikeout.

     

    I told my wife the news and she immediately said: "Honey, we have to buy our season ticket package again."

     

    Right now, going into Twinsfest and the winter months, the Twins have to do something, anything, to create a brand look, a marketing plan, and to sell advance tickets. 

     

    Sad to say, right now, Torii will do that. People will cheer when he appears at Twinsfest. I'm sure the overzealous $10.5 million payout is including some public relations, banquet appearances, maybe the winter caravan.

     

    Yes, it will all catch up with the Twins come May 1, probably. But if he sells an additional 3-5-7 thousand season ticket packages or more, if in his own outspoken way he fires up the rabble, if the Twins can come out of April not as a flyball pitching club, but with starters that dominate the batters into strikeouts and groundballs, we will have a good attendance to open the season.

     

    In the short term, the Twins need to put butts (or non-show dollars) into the seats, buying time until the new crowd comes in and gets a taste. I don't know anyone else in the free agent sphere that the Twins would afford that will create excitement for the team amongst the common fan as Torii.

     

    He gives us a solid 40-year-old bat behind Mauer, he gives us an alternative at DH if Vargas sophomore slumps, he gives us a body in leftfield if we can't break camp with Buxton or Rosario or Hicks (two would be a dream, but highly doubtfull. 

     

    Now, we need some non pitch-to-contact starters and some high-throwin' bullpeners.

    Edited by Rosterman
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    I don't hate this. Considering we had Arcia and Willingham in the corners last year this couldn't be worse than that... but I would like to see them pick up a very good defensive CF like Bourjos at least until Buxton is up.

     

    As for the money, I really don't care how they choose to spend 10.5 mil as long as it isn't used as an excuse to not improve elsewhere.

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    I am alright with this, its a nostalgia signing but at least it should actually work (unlike Kubel, Bartlett, didn't they resign Jones for a moment as well). Nice that it is one year, if it goes good they can do it again and if it goes bad, or prospects force the issue, its done.  

     

    His bat is still good and he can slide into somewhere between 3-6 in the order.  As a bonus point he might be able to get Hicks going and Buxton isn't that far away TR's sacred center field lineage is back. 

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