On Saturday, Gerry Fraley of SportsDay by the Dallas Morning News noted that the Texas Rangers were one of four teams currently heading the pack for the services of Torii Hunter. The Twins are on that list too, of course, as are the Mariners and the Orioles.
Hunter told the Los Angeles Daily News on Saturday that Baltimore, Seattle and the Rangers are at the top of his list. Hunter said Minnesota, his original club, is also a possibility but not as likely as the other clubs.
Not as likely as the other three clubs? That's okay.
Fraley notes that the Rangers did come after Hunter in 2012, when he deal with the Angels expired. Hunter's home has also been in Texas for the last ten years, and it's been common speculation that the Rangers would be on the shortlist of Torii's desired locations. Here's the situation as it applies to Hunter in each of the three other cities.
Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis, and Delmon Young are all free agents, leaving Adam Jones in center field and uncertainty otherwise. Steve Pearce could be penciled into left field after his big season, although Alejandro De Aza might be the better defender. De Aza could be non-tendered, however. As it stands right now, the Orioles could give Hunter playing time quite easily between left field and designated hitter.
If the Mariners want to continue committing playing time to Dustin Ackley as their left fielder, after his good second half, there is room at designated hitter for Hunter. Corey Hart and Kendrys Morales aren't in the cards. If Seattle does actually trade Michael Saunders, Ackley could occasionally slide into right and leave Hunter to patrol left. The playing time isn't as obvious as it would be in Baltimore, but it's easy to see Hunter getting 300 to 400 plate appearances in Seattle.
The Rangers had all the bad luck this year and finished in last place. If they're healthy this season they should compete, provided they can make two or three good choices in free agency. In the outfield, Leonys Martin is in center and Shin-Soo Choo in right, but by declining Alex Rios' option and making him a free agent, right field is open. Mitch Moreland has power, but he was terrible in 2014 and the Rangers certainly wouldn't avoid picking someone up simply to protect Moreland's playing time.
We know that the Twins should be trying to do better than Hunter when it comes to left field. The lineup needs help, and the pitching staff could use a player who is mobile enough to create positive value in the field. While Hunter could provide Minnesota with a little bit of offense, it would be a gamble; that's the upside on how Hunter could contribute to this young Twins squad, depending on how much credit you'd be willing to grant him for his intangibles.
Personally, I think Baltimore is the best fit for Hunter. Plus, he'd look good in black and orange.