Another regular season gone, another off season to point fingers, dwell on “what ifs” and start calculating salary cap room. As fans of any non-playoff team can tell you, once the regular season is over, thoughts immediately turn to offseason roster moves. It is a fast-paced, high stakes game of Fantasy Baseball and everyone is looking to come out on top with free agents, rookie call ups, trades and re-signings. The Angels have already made their first move, signing veteran catcher Chris Iannetta to a 3 year deal, but Iannetta is not the man of the free-agent hour. That honor falls to Torii Hunter.
Hunter has gone on record as saying he is willing to take a pay cut to stay in Anaheim. However, with his previous contract set at 5 years and $90 million, Torii’s going to take a pay cut to play for any team in 2013. Even so, Hunter’s package of veteran leadership combined with a level of play not expected from a man pushing 40 will be a targeted commodity in the offseason and underpricing him could be a costly mistake. A team like the Red Sox that has lost their way, or a team like the Pirates that hasn’t had a way to speak of in some time may look at Hunter as a central leadership pillar to usher in a new era. To put it simply, he’s not going to be the future of any organization, but his unique skill set can be used to help raise up current young stars or give that little over-the-top push to a team just out of playoff reach.
Anaheim falls into both of those categories. For the time being, Southern California is where Hunter calls home. The question the Angels must ponder is not whether or not to make an offer to retain him, but how lucrative the offer should be. The market has tentatively priced Hunter between $8 and $12 million per year. The Angels will at least need to hit that range if they hope to retain his services. Anyone can offer money though, Anaheim will need to step it up if they want to offer something more.
An incentive that should be included immediately is that Hunter must be offered free In-N-Out hamburgers for the entirety of his contract. A double-double cheeseburger (animal style, of course) is difficult enough to resist, but as an addition to a fair contract offer, it is a siren song that will summon Hunter to stay awhile longer in the warm, SoCal embrace. A man, however cannot live by burgers alone, and so a generous quantity of Del Taco giftcards should be provided as well. Two of the local signature foods should be more than enough to sway Hunter’s athletic affections. However, should this not be sufficient, perhaps the Halos can appeal to his teammates. CJ Wilson is a known fan Disneyland and the churros that lie within. It stands to reason that the offer of some annual passes coupled with a quantity of complimentary sweet cinnamon treats may fuel a locker room outcry to return Torii to the team.
Whatever the cost, Torii Hunter will most certainly be receiving offers during the offseason. If the Halos want him, they should be ready to open their pocketbooks and show it. A great majority of the Anaheim fanbase is looking forward to seeing Hunter in the outfield and with conspiracy theorists whispering rumors the team may be moving to Los Angeles, it would do management good to fulfill a fan request that is both reasonable, and beneficial to the team.
And if Torii needs any more SoCal incentive, it’s a certainty those rich gentlemen running the business side of things know a few large-chested (possibly surgically enhanced) women possessed of the ability to entice Mr. Hunter to remain in the OC.
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"Targeted commodity" seems a bit strong to me. I'd guess that most of the teams with an interest would buy him secure in the knowledge they have some kid in the minors who, they hope, will be ready to come up mid-season to have his transition enhanced by the veteran currently ahead of him. Also, to use as a fallback for any missteps the kid might take in the bigs. And price him accordingly. In other words he'd be a place filler for the next big thing. Nobody can seriously hope he will duplicate '12.