Torii Hunter announced the news on Twitter:”Found a job! Headed to Motown to win that ring!”
And so it is, the former Los Angeles Angeles free-agent outfielder — among the most coveted players this offseason — has agreed to a tw0-year deal with the Detroit Tigers, fortifying the team that was close to winning a World Series this year.
Hunter hit his first career home run at Tiger Stadium and has hit seven more over a decade as a stellar player in the American League. Now, he can add to that number exponentially as a member of Detroit. USA Today reports his contract is worth $13 a year.
Hunter has played the third-most games among active players without a World Series appearance (1,947). He trails Bobby Abreu (2,347) and Carlos Lee (2,099).
In a text message to the Free Press today, Tigers catcher Alex Avila wrote: “It’s great news. I’m really excited to hear about it. He’s a great player, someone that I’ve really enjoyed watching and competing against. I’ve heard he not only is a great competitor but a great person as well, and I’m happy someone of his caliber is joining our team.”
Tigers pitcher Drew Smyly, a fellow Arkansas native, tweeted that he “can’t wait to play with” Hunter, according to the Detroit Free Press. And ace Justin Verlander also tweeted congratulations.
The 37-year-old Hunter posted the highest batting average of his 16-year major league career in 2012, hitting .313 for the Los Angeles Angels. He hit 16 home runs, marking his first 500-at-bat season in which he didn’t hit 20 homers.
Hunter’s signing addresses two needs the Tigers had from prospective corner-outfield free agents: defense and run production.
He has won nine Gold Gloves in centerfield, tied for seventh-most all time, and figures to slot into rightfield and hit second in the Tigers’ 2013 lineup.
Hunter is a lifetime .277 hitter with 297 home runs. His first came April 15, 1999, against Brian Moehler.
He has has a .262 career batting average in 81 games at Comerica Park.
The Arkansas native has four All-Star Game appearances to his credit and, according to baseball-reference, ranked 10th in the AL with 5.5 wins above replacement last season.