Hunter, Tigers play waiting game as options emerge

The Tigers and Torii Hunter are in a waiting game right now while Detroit tries to work out the pressing issues elsewhere on its roster. There could soon be a limit to how long Hunter waits, though.

Though Tuesday marked the first day that teams could negotiate with other clubs’ free agents, nothing prevented clubs from expressing interest before that as long as no contract terms were discussed. With that in mind, Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 in Minneapolis tweeted Tuesday that the Twins have already expressed interest in Hunter, their former superstar outfielder who came up through Minnesota’s system and served as the heart and soul of the team during its run of American League Central titles in the early and mid-2000s.

The Twins are a ways off from the World Series contender that Hunter is seeking as he tries to round out his career with a Fall Classic berth, let alone a title. Still, Hunter’s Twins roots and the pending wave of young talent make this a potential fit. Hunter is a fan of Paul Molitor, having raved earlier this year about Molitor’s knowledge of the game and ability to observe trends on the field. Molitor worked with Hunter in Minnesota more than a decade ago.

Last month, the Royals were speculated with potential interest in Hunter to fill their right-field void now that Nori Aoki is a free agent.

The Tigers are interested in keeping fellow free agent Victor Martinez. What happens with him could have an impact on Hunter, who has manned right field for two seasons but is also approaching his 40th birthday next summer.

Hunter, in turn, has let it be known he’s interested in staying with the Tigers. But he also has been known to move quickly as a free agent, identifying his target early and signing there. He joined the Tigers about two weeks into the offseason two years ago, and signed with the Angels on Thanksgiving the first time he was a free agent.

Depending on how long the Tigers’ dealings linger, Hunter could be in a position where he has to choose between waiting on their uncertainty and taking an opportunity somewhere else. That makes the chances of his potential return far less clear than they were a couple weeks ago.

Jason Beck

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