Interest piling up for Torii Hunter

As the offseason ensues, and the chances of Torii Hunter returning to the Angels continues to look awfully bleak, the list of potential suitors for the veteran right fielder continues to grow.

On Monday, CBSSports.com reported that as many as 13-14 teams have checked in on Hunter, with the Tigers, Rangers and Braves being the most aggressive. The Dodgers are out on Hunter, according to ESPNLosAngeles.com, which said Hunter will make a decision on his 2013 destination within the next couple weeks.

As for the Angels? They haven’t offered Hunter anything more than a one-year, $5 million contract since mid-September, a source said, because they have plenty of depth in their outfield and need to allocate funds to shore up their pitching — specifically a rotation that has only two 2012 members guaranteed to return and a bullpen that blew 22 saves.

General manager Jerry Dipoto previously admitted that it’s “not likely” Hunter returns, and Hunter’s agent, Larry Reynolds, echoed those same thoughts. They could free up more money for Hunter if they get something back on the $42 million owed to Vernon Wells over the next two seasons, but that doesn’t seem favorable right now, either.

Hunter, 37, batted a career-high .313 with 16 homers and 92 RBIs in 2012. His production, health and athleticism at this stage in his career, coupled with his leadership and character, make him an appealing, affordable free agent. So does not having to give up a Draft pick to sign him, since the Angels didn’t tender a $13.3 million qualifying offer to Hunter.

“My plan is to win no matter what, and of course I’m going to try to get with a ballclub that’s trying to win,” Hunter recently told MLB.com. “That’s the plan.”

 – Alden Gonzalez

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