According to a baseball source, the Red Sox have shown interest in free agent outfielder Torii Hunter.
The 37-year-old (who turns 38 in July) has expressed interest in playing in Boston in the past, in large part because of the presence of his longtime friend, Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz.
Hunter spent the last five seasons playing with the Los Angeles Angels and is coming off arguably his best season ever. He hit .313/.365/.451 with 16 home runs. He played great defense in right field, and his WAR of 5.3 (per Fangraphs) was the highest of his career.
What Should The Red Sox' Top Priority Be This Offseason?
However, teams should be wary of paying Hunter prime dollars based on his production last season for two reasons. First, he is going to turn 38 years old next July.
Second, his average was largely the product of a .389 batting average on balls in play, up over 80 points from his career mark. His approach didn't change, which is evident by the fact that his walk rate actually decreased from the previous season (9.6 percent in 2011 to 6.5 percent last year) and his strikeout rate increased (19.3 percent to 22.8 percent).
The Red Sox front office spent last season trying to get out from under a number of bad contracts to have room to wiggle around in the future. If the Red Sox could get Hunter on a one-year deal with an option, that would be beneficial to them.
It will be interesting to see how the Red Sox, specifically general manager Ben Cherington, approach this offseason after their disastrous 69-93 campaign this season. They already took care of their biggest free agent, David Ortiz, by signing him to a two-year extension (h/t RedSox.com).
Since the Angels did not make a qualifying offer to Hunter before free agency began, any team that signs him would not have to give up a draft pick.