Free agent outfielder Torii Hunter has signed a two-year, $26 million deal with the Detroit Tigers, ending any pursuit of him the Red Sox may have been engaged in.
Hunter, despite turning 37 in July, still managed to put up a solid season with the Los Angeles Angels, hitting .313/.365/.451 in 584 trips to the plate leading to a 5.3 fWAR/5.5 rWAR season when factoring in a pretty big outlier season in terms of defensive numbers. That sort of production led to plenty of interest in the offseason, especially as teams are trying to cut down on lengthy contracts.
By that description alone Hunter would seem like a perfect candidate for the Red Sox, who are in dire need of outfield help. And in many ways he might have been a good option. But we're just one year removed now from trading Mike Cameron for a pittance to Florida, and Cameron was actually younger than Hunter when he signed on by a few months.
The Red Sox are a team that has to take some risks this year if they're going to be good, but I'm not certain Hunter was the right type of risk. Hunter's upside probably is closer to a 3.5-4 win player than a 5-win player given that a lot of his value comes from an outlier season in terms of defense (the metrics used, of course, often need to be taken in much larger samples to be reliable), and was aided by some uncharacteristically positive baserunning as well. Guys Hunter's age don't generally make significant improvements in their game, and are always a significant injury/decline risk. He's an all-or-nothing sort of risk, with the possibility of nothing perhaps too high for Boston's blood.
One thing this isn't likely to do is bring Cody Ross' price down any. With Boston already not terribly interested in matching his expectations, it seems even less likely now that Ross will suit up in a Boston uniform for 2013.