Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Hunter Back in 2007?

The Twins have an option on Torii Hunter for next season that is worth $12 million. The conventional wisdom had been that, if the Twins failed to get a stadium deal, the team would essentially say good bye to Hunter at the end of the season, and quite probably earlier through a trade. If a deal was truck, however, it was supposed to be more likely for the Twins to keep Hunter around next season.

I think Torii will be back with the Twins, but there is no way that the Twins will pick up that option. There is a desire on both sides to keep Hunter around until the new stadium is opened, in time for the 2010 season. Hunter has said that he's willing to rip up the option for a new multi-year deal. I think this is by far the most likely scenario if he is brought back. Look for a 4-year deal in the neighborhood of $10 million/year.

Of course, there is a larger question here: should the Twins bring Hunter back at all? This is a very, very difficult question. Hunter is a fan favorite, the best defensive center fielder in the league, a team leader, and occasionally a valuable and key offensive contributor. The problem is that his offense is streaky, and when it goes bad it really goes bad. Is a player who is primarily a defensive player worth $10 million/season for the Twins?

My gut tells me yes, and in this case I really don't mind my gut overruling my head. From just a number-cruncher standpoint, this is probably not a good deal for the Twins. However, all of the intangibles, plus the impression that would be created in the city by getting rid of Hunter right after having the stadium deal passed, lead me to favor keeping Hunter around for another 4 years. Hopefully by the end of the 2008 season, Denard Span is ready to come up to the big leagues and learn directly from Hunter. Hopefully by the end of the 2010 season, the Twins can trade an aging (but hopefully still defensively marvelous) Hunter, installing Span as the new starting Center Fielder and getting something, anything, in return. Getting rid of Hunter know, despite what the number-crunchers might say, is premature. If an appropriate deal can be worked out (and it seems Hunter is willing to be reasonable), then Hunter should be kept around.


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