Torii Hunter: Ranking Best Fits for Former MLB All Star

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistNovember 11, 2012

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 26:  Torii Hunter #48 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim celebrates as he runs to first base on his walk off RBI single in the ninth inning to win the game against the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 26, 2012 in Anaheim, California.  The Angels won 4-3.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

In a free-agent market where teams will have to overspend, both in years and dollars, to get the top-tier players, someone like Torii Hunter can be a tremendous asset. 

Hunter, who spent the last five seasons with the Los Angeles Angels and is coming off a season when he hit a career-best .313, is 37 years old and will not likely cost a team more than two years on his next contract. 

Don't expect Hunter to hit .313/..365/.451 again—his BABIP of .389 is not sustainable—but if you follow his trends from 2010 (.281/.354/.464) and 2011 (.262/.336/.429), in which he was good for nearly three wins above replacement (per Fangraphs) both years, there is value to be found. 

Plenty of teams are rumored to be in the mix for Hunter's services. According to Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles, the Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, Mariners and Phillies are all thought to have interest in him. 

So, which destination would be the best fit for Hunter?


No. 5 Seattle Mariners

The Seattle Mariners are desperate for some pop in their lineup, but Hunter is not right for what they need, and Safeco Field is not the right place for him. 

Mariners right fielders hit just .239/.282/.330 in 2012. They are desperate to find even a respectable corner outfielder. 

Hunter's home run power, which has been decreasing for years, would be virtually non-existent in that big park. He is not the answer for the Mariners and vice versa.

Plus, if Hunter wants to win, a division that features Texas, Oakland and Los Angeles is not likely to lead to a lot of playoff appearances. 


No. 4 Los Angeles Dodgers

Are the Dodgers just trying to stockpile any and all available players? They have Matt Kemp in center field and Andre Ethier in right. They do need someone to play left, as Shane Victorino is a free agent and not likely to return. 

Saxon's report says the Dodgers are discussing a two-year deal with Hunter. He would be a good insurance policy given the injury problems that hit Matt Kemp last season, and Ethier is usually a lock to miss at least 20 games. 

That said, Hunter would be going to another big ballpark against pitching-rich teams like San Francisco. Arizona and Colorado could help inflate some of his offensive numbers, though. 


No. 3 New York Yankees

Playing in a smaller park would help Hunter's power numbers stay relatively close to the levels they've been at for the last three seasons. Yankee Stadium is very hitter-friendly, particularly for lefties, which doesn't matter much for Hunter. 

The Yankees will need a right fielder if they let Nick Swisher and Ichiro walk. Hunter could be a cheap alternative, though you have to wonder if the team will be skittish to invest in another player in his late-30s after seeing what happened in the postseason. 


No. 2 Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies are not far away from competing for a playoff spot again in the National League. In fact, trading Hunter Pence might have been the best thing they could do, since it freed up a little money for them to play with. 

Hunter could slot into Pence's vacant slot in right field, shifting Domonic Brown and his lackluster defense to left field. Hunter is still a serviceable defender in right, and the bat could play up in the band box that is Citizens Bank Park. 


No. 1 Boston Red Sox

Since it doesn't appear that the Red Sox want to spend all the money they saved from the Adrian Gonzalez trade in August—which is the right move by general manager Ben Cherington—they will have to get creative with some things. 

The Red Sox would provide Hunter with an opportunity to win—despite their record last year, there are still plenty of quality pieces that just need to stay healthy—and he would provide similar offensive numbers to what Cody Ross gave the team in 2012.