Hot Stove: Why it's Good That the Twins Didn't Re-Sign Torii Hunter
(Here's my clever, non-ironic subtitle: and why it'll be even better when they don't re-sign Carlos Silva. Yes, I'm serious, and we'll talk about Silva in detail when he signs).
Few expected Torii Hunter to be back in a Twins uniform next season, so the fact that he signed with the Angels for five years and scads of money that the A.P. reports to be $90 million is no surprise. You'll likely still hear friends, neighbors and pundits bemoaning the departure of the star center fielder.
You shouldn't listen.
After you've eaten your last slice of pie and reflected on all you have to be thankful for, you should add this to the list -- that the Twins aren't going to pay Hunter a premium based on what he did in years past. This team needs to look hard at what players are likely to do in the future, and there's a miniscule chance that Hunter is performing up to this contract by year three -- let alone the final two years, when he'll be 36 and 37 years old, respectively.
David Cameron is one of the sharpest baseball minds I know, and he listed Hunter as the most dangerous landmine in the free agent market this month. Carlos Silva was number two. I'll summarize Dave's argument thusly: it doesn't make sense to commit tons of cash to a player who is getting older, and though talented, isn't as stellar as his name value indicates.
In the short term, it'll sting to lose Hunter's offensive punch, especially given the Judy-without-the-Punch offense the Twins are running out there these days. In the long run, though, this is the right move. Especially when your team has chosen not to be a big-budget player, avoiding commitment to players through their decline years is essential. It's frustrating to watch established players leave, and I'm a big Hunter fan. But it makes more sense to catch players on their way up.