The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are entering a very strange offseason. They're facing free-agent defections from Dan Haren and Ervin Santana. And they also need to find a way to bring Zack Greinke back into the fold.
But they are looking at the trickiest decision regarding outfielder Torii Hunter.
There are reasons to consider letting Hunter go. He will be 37 next year, which, in this day and age, is a risky age for a position player—especially one whose game revolves around speed.
He also made $18 million last year. He will almost certainly make less than that in 2013, but using that money to improve the bullpen and rotation might be more wise than retaining their right fielder.
And, of course, he has the most value as a center fielder—a position currently held by the man who very well might win the Rookie of the Year and MVP: Mike Trout.
Additionally, another team will almost certainly sign Hunter, throwing a few draft picks into play for the Angels next spring.
However, there are also reasons to keep him. Unfortunately, most of them are of the risky intangible variety. Hunter is considered to be one the good guys in the game, and there is no doubt that the combination of Trout in center and Hunter in right field gives the Angels a terrific two-thirds of an outfield.
And Hunter did have a very good season in 2012. He batted .313 with an OPS of .817 and an OPS+ of 132. He also posted a 5.5 WAR and hit for power.
He will probably put up at least one more solid all-around season. And for a team that just barely missed the playoffs and has sky-high expectations for 2013, it might be worth paying for that one good season.
The Angels should not have a knee-jerk panic reaction for failing to make the 2012 postseason. They should stay calm and show stability. Jerry DiPoto did a good job as GM. Mike Scioscia is still a solid manager. And they will go into next season with Mike Trout, Jered Weaver, Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo.
Having Hunter on that squad would be a further sign of their stability. Besides, how can the team justify letting a player like Torii Hunter walk while paying Vernon Wells so much money to ride the bench?
Paying for a potential town turn in 2014 is a small price to pay for a real run at a 2013 pennant. Offer him the two years, Angels. It will pay off