Tigers, Rangers both want Torii Hunter, who says he'll sign somewhere soon
As a 37-year-old free agent who has yet to play in a World Series, Torii Hunter is looking for a team that can win. He'll have at least two very good options, because sources say the Tigers and Rangers both have strong interest. The Rangers played in (and lost) the World Series in 2010-11, while the Tigers played in (and lost) in 2012. The Braves have also shown interest in signing Hunter.
As he approached free agency, Torii Hunter said he wanted to find a team that could finally get him to the World Series.
Now he has a chance to pick one.
The Tigers, who just played in the World Series, are very interested in Hunter, according to sources. The Rangers, who played in the two World Series before that, are interested, too.
The market for Hunter has been predictably strong, as Jon Heyman reported last week. The Braves are also very interested, sources say, and the Phillies and Red Sox are also possible fits. The Yankees are said to have mild interest, and the Dodgers have been mentioned. The Dodgers aren't a great fit, though, because they already have Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier set as their outfield.
But as of now, the Tigers seem to be the front-runners, with the Rangers just behind them.
Hunter has a history of signing quickly (his contract with the Angels was announced on Thanksgiving Day 2007), and he said Monday morning on MLB Network that he expects this one to move fast, as well.
He certainly has options.
The Tigers have prioritized finding a corner outfielder and see Hunter as almost a perfect fit in their lineup, in the field and also in the clubhouse. He could join a team that already has Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera and will also add Victor Martinez back to the middle of the lineup next year.
The Tigers could bat Hunter second, just behind Austin Jackson and just ahead of Cabrera, Fielder and Martinez.
Or Hunter could go to the Rangers, where he could help make up for the expected departure of Josh Hamilton. The Rangers could also be a perfect fit for Hunter, an Arkansas native who makes his home in Prosper, Texas, not far from Rangers Ballpark.
Either way, Hunter could be the missing piece for a team almost as desperate to win a World Series as he is. The Rangers lost two World Series in a row, while the Tigers lost in 2006 and 2012, their two most recent appearances.
Hunter is 37, and he's still looking for his first World Series appearance.
"Right now, I'm focused on winning," Hunter told me in spring training. "Money? I've made money. I want a ring.
"Money has nothing to do with any decision I would make. I want a ring."
The Tigers know the feeling. Owner Mike Ilitch is 83, has plenty of money but has yet to hold the World Series trophy. The Rangers have never won it.
Hunter could still go elsewhere, but the Tigers and Rangers are definitely interested.
Either one would be a good fit.