So, three days in to the free agency period and the Torii Hunter saga continues to drag on. The Sox have made public that signing Hunter to roam centerfield at the Cell is their top priority of the winter. Whether that is the truth or a smokescreen for an under-the-radar transaction, well Dude, we just don't know.
But if it is true, the contract could end up being outrageous. Just today the Star Telegram reported that Hunter is seeking a seven-year contract, which would take him to age 39. As a general baseball rule, the correlation between 39-year-old staring centerfielders earning in excess of $15 million and general team suckiness is pretty high.
But if there's any owner willing to flip the bird to common sense, it's the Texas Rangers' Tom Hicks, who just received $20 million refund when A-Rod opted out of his Yankees contract. So sure enough, ESPN's Buster Olney reports that the Rangers are expected to offer Hunter a six-year, $90-million bonanza.
There is no way the Sox should even entertain the idea of topping that offer. Hunter is a solid ballplayer, but isn't more than a .270-20-80 guy and will be in decline for most of his contract. The wear and tear on his knees from playing on artificial turf won't help his longevity either, and his prowess as a defensive wiz is already starting to come more from reputation than actual production.
Furthermore, there are other centerfielders on the market, so simple supply and demand should dictate that there has to be a more reasonable deal out there. Comcast SportsNet reported that Aaron Rowand has already talked to Ken Williams, and we all know the mutual love there.
I'd take Rowand for 4 years/$50 million over Hunter for 6 years/$90 million. Even though Hunter may be the slightly better player, the difference in money and years offsets the slight talent difference.
Then there's Andruw Jones, who nobody talks about because his agent is Scott Boras. But Williams has always held Jones in high esteem, and with the former Brave coming off his worst season as a pro there may be a chance to "buy low." That may turn out better than buying into the hype of the comparatively overrated Hunter and Rowand, who are both coming off big contract years they are unlikely to produce consistently.
In any case, the Sox have a lot of areas of need besides centerfield, so they can't blow their whole stack here. If the Rangers want Hunter that bad, they can have him.