Torii Hunter to Tigers: Detroit Reportedly Signs Veteran Slugger

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2012

Free agent outfielder Torii Hunter is off the market after reportedly signing a two-year contract to play with the American League champion Detroit Tigers, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick:

Torii Hunter has agreed on a two-year deal with #tigers pending physical exam, source says.

— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) November 14, 2012

In an outfield market that is filled with players at the top who all pose significant risks with a long-term contract, Hunter represented a nice alternative. 

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Hunter's deal will pay him an average of $13 million per season:

Hunter gets 26 million over 2 years from #Tigers

— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 14, 2012

Hunter's choice seemed inevitable due to a variety of factors. First, the team is obviously close to winning a championship. Second, Hunter's son has committed to play football at the University of Notre Dame. 

At age 37, Hunter never expected to get a big-money deal for five years. He was going to go somewhere that would give him a chance to win and play every day. Hunter certainly had his share of suitors to choose from. 

Now Hunter has found exactly what he is looking for, and he is hoping to provide a spark that puts the Tigers over the top in the postseason. If nothing else, he certainly has a reputation as a great teammate and clubhouse presence. 

Hunter has spent the last five seasons with the Los Angeles Angels after playing the first nine years of his career with the Minnesota Twins. He has won nine Gold Gloves and played on three All-Star teams. 

In his final season with the Angels, Hunter hit .313/.365/.451 with 16 home runs. He picked the right time to become a free agent, too, as his .313 average was a career high and his .365 on-base percentage was just one point away from tying his previous career best. 

Hunter will now slide into the middle of a lineup that features Austin Jackson at the top, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera in the No. 3 and No. 4 spots and Victor Martinez, who will be returning after missing all of 2012 following knee surgery.

Whether Hunter can maintain those numbers moving forward is up for debate—his .389 BABIP suggests otherwise—but he is still a good enough hitter with the defense to make him worth two to three wins above replacement as he settles into his late 30s.