Torii Hunter gets to go back to where it all started.
The Minnesota Twins have brought back Torii Hunter on a one-year contract worth $10.5 million. This should be a sweet homecoming for Hunter, who was selected by the Twins in the first round (20th overall) of the 1993 MLB Amateur Draft and spent the first 11 years of his Major League career in Minnesota.
After being involved in talks with the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles and the Kansas City Royals, Hunter took a one-year deal from a team that has had four straight 90-loss seasons. The $10.5 million deal was the highest of all his offers, according to reports.
Grade for Hunter: B+
Hunter, who spent the past two seasons with the Detroit Tigers, said after Detroit was swept by the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Divisional Series that he would seriously considerretirement. However after two solid seasons of playing in 140-plus games, hitting 17 home runs and 80 plus RBIs while hitting .304 (2013) and .286 (2014), Hunter, 39, was bound to get some quality offers.
It looks like the veteran chose to go with money over winning; Seattle, Texas, Kansas City and Baltimore all look to be contenders. He could have taken less money and gone home to Texas, but he wanted to go out where he started and get paid well to do so.
Grade for the Twins: B-
As long as Hunter stays healthy, this is a good move for Minnesota. A five-time All-Star and career .279 hitter with 2,397 hits and nine gold gloves will add to a team that went 70-92 last season and finished last in the American League Central. They fired manager Ron Gardenhire and replaced him with Paul Molitor, who Hunter played alongside for nine game in 1998.
The Twins will be able to market Hunter, putting fans in the seats. Hunter, along with help from Joe Mauer, is hoping he can lead a young team in playoff contention for the first time since 2010.
This deal can also be looked at as a strange one. Early reports had Hunter receiving multi-year deals from the Royals and Rangers. He could have had a last shot at a ring and would have been close to family and friends in North Texas. Minnesota is looking to gain back a big name. Hunter will not set Hall of Fame milestones in hits, runs (1,229), home runs (331) or even outfield assists (125). His WAR dipped to 0.4 in 2014 and might dip even more in a lineup that does not compare to what Detroit can put together.
In the end, anything is possible. Torii could have a solid home coming like his new manager Paul Molitor did in 1998 (hit .281 over 126 games) or he could be like Ken Griffey Jr. in Seattle in 2010 (hit .184 over 33 games).