Detroit Tigers: Should They Have Used Torii Hunter's Money for a Reliever?

Sean RinehartContributor IIINovember 29, 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

Currently, the Detroit Tigers are in an interesting position.

They have two choices: sign a proven closer to a larger-than-desired contract or allow one of the young relievers, such a s Bruce Rondon, to step into the pressure-laced role.

There is absolutely no question that the Tigers made the right call in signing Torii Hunter.

Not only are they getting a player that is committed to winning and is born to lead, they are also getting an outfielder who is coming off of a career season, which oddly occurred at the age of 36.

With the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last season, Hunter hit an impressive .313 with an OPS of .817. At the same time, his overall WAR (wins above replacement) rating was the highest it has ever been throughout his long 14-year career at 5.5. 

This means that Hunter provided 5.5 more wins to the Angels than the average Triple-A player would have contributed.

The Tigers, as well as many others around the league, are not assuming that Hunter will be able to match his astounding numbers from 2012. 

However, if he is able to contribute even at his career averages—which include a .277 batting average, a .801 OPS and a 2.775 career WAR rating—he will be a definite improvement for Detroit's outfield.

While many people may look at his two-year, $26 million contract as being too high, true fans of Detroit know that Mike Ilitch is not waiting around to see his beloved Tigers win the World Series.

A recent Detroit Free Press article hinted at the same idea when reports surfaced that the Tigers were in talks with Rafael Soriano's agent, Scott Boras.

You would think that Soriano—seeking about $60 million over four years—would be out of the Tigers' price range, but Ilitch has shown that he's willing to throw piles of money around for the right free agents.

Detroit would be making the right move in signing Soriano this offseason. 

He is currently 32 years old is coming off of one of his best seasons over the past five years. 

Soriano accumulated a respectable 2.26 ERA, 69 strikeouts and 42 saves while filling in for the injured Mariano Rivera. At the same time, Soriano's WAR rating was a 2.6, which is a career high for him. 

However, the WAR rating does not truly show how important a shutdown closer really is. When a team has a slim one- or two-run lead entering the ninth inning, it is critical to have a trustworthy closer waiting in the bullpen who is ready to finish the game.

In the end, while many will argue that the money given to Hunter should have been used in other places, Mr. Ilitch is truly willing to spend whatever it takes to make his team as formidable as possible. 

Fans should appreciate the recent signing of Torii Hunter, as he will no doubt dramatically improve the outfield defense and the offense out of the two-hole in the lineup. 

However, they shouldn't worry about Hunter being the last big move by Detroit.

Look for the Tigers to make more significant moves between now and February, and one of those moves may very well be for a proven closer. 


UPDATE: Jon Paul Morosi, who writes for, recently posted a tweet about how Brennan Boesch could be traded during the upcoming winter meetings.

Brennan Boesch has garnered trade interest from multiple teams. One source believes Boesch could be dealt during winter meetings. #Tigers

— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 28, 2012


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