The Twins made it official this morning when they announced that former star Torii Hunter has been signed a one-year contract.
Hunter, who in baseball years is older than dirt, comes back to the team for primarily emotional reasons and also because the Twins can’t schedule 82 concerts with Kenny Chesney at Target Field.
The great Aaron Gleeman writes at MinnPost:
Make no mistake, the Twins are paying for nostalgia here. Even if Hunter exactly duplicates his 2014 performance — which is always unlikely at age 39 — he’d be average offensively for a corner outfielder and well below average defensively. Any further decline on either side of the ball would make him a liability and as with most 39-year-olds there isn’t a whole lot of upside to balance out the potential for a major dropoff.
The good news is that it’s a straight up one-year deal, which makes it easier to cut bait on Hunter if necessary and doesn’t lock the Twins into anything beyond 2015.
And while $10.5 million is way too much money to spend, it’s not as if the Twins were going to spend money elsewhere anyway. In each of the past two seasons they’ve left massive amounts of payroll unspent and there’s zero indication they planned to make a real effort to sign any front-line free agents this offseason.
So what will Hunter do?
We dusted off the Brock5 spreadsheet, the Bill James-inspired calculations for predicting a player’s performance, based on his ability to stay in the lineup either because of no injuries or because he performs well enough to keep the rookies at bay.
Here’s the result. Scroll write down to “2015” and you’ll see why it’s just a one-year deal.
Ted Schwerzler, who writes at Puckett’s Pond, says the notion that Hunter brings “leadership” to the team has some flaws, too.
Many of the players that could use Torii Hunter’s veteran leadership won’t be on the 25 man roster until the summer at the earliest.
Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, and Miguel Sano will have to soak up everything in a very short time period down in Fort Myers. On top of that, with the Twins poised for another tough season, and Hunter on a one year deal, he could be a trade chip down the stretch.
It’s pricey at $10.5 million, but it’s not our money and it’s a small price to pay in the long run for being able to pass the time during an early-arriving winter by talking a little baseball.
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) December 3, 2014