May 7, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA: Los Angeles Angels right fielder Torii Hunter (48) looks on during batting practice before a game against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE
It's not even September and we've already got free agency rumors. Or something approximating one, anyways. Speaking to Rob Bradford, Torii Hunter suggested he'd be open to going anywhere after his contract with the Angels ends this season, "especially if David [Ortriz] is there."
Now, this obviously assumes David Ortiz will be here in 2013, but it's hard to believe he won't be, given how much money the team has open for the next season. Hunter and Ortiz remain friends from their time with the Twins so long ago.
Hunter, 37, is not exactly the marquee player his salary suggests. In fact, he arguably never was. The Angels will likely still have interest in him given his connection to the franchise, but after spending the last couple years with a decent-not-great 118 OPS+ in a corner outfield role really shouldn't even earn a qualifying offer from the Angels.
If it does, the Sox should just move straight along. Hunter is worth nowhere near that much money, even for a team that can overspend. Given his age, a multi-year contract--even as short as two years--would be pretty ridiculous as well. But if the Angels aren't going to overspend, he would be a decent fill-in for a vacant left field, or right if they can't get Cody Ross back. Hunter has hit a solid .869 in Fenway over 214 career plate appearances, and still seems entirely capable of playing a corner outfield role, if center is now out of reach.
Of course, the Sox have had troubles with the aging outfielder solution before, but there are precious few options out there barring inventive trade swings from Ben Cherington. And this time there's tons of minor league depth to pick up the slack should problems emerge; if Ryan Kalish continues to struggle, then Jerry Sands or even Bryce Brentz could get their shot at the spot.
Even with all this money off the books, however, it still comes down to money. There likely are places to invest in the short-term outside of Hunter if they're willing to open their wallets wide enough, and they can't be dropping tons of money to pay for the reputation Hunter holds in Anaheim, much less restricting themselves in 2014 for the sake of 2013.