Torii Hunter has been in contact with the Twins this week, and the five-time All-Star outfielder is considering a return to the club, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions.
Hunter last played for the Twins in 2007 before leaving as a free agent to sign a five-year, $90 million contract with the Angels. He spent the past two seasons on a $26 million deal with the Tigers, batting .286 with 17 home runs and 83 RBI in 2014, but Detroit General Manager Dave Dombrowski said last week it was unlikely that Hunter would be brought back.
Despite being 39 years old, Hunter is drawing interest from multiple teams, including playoff teams from last season. That means Hunter’s decision could come down to how much he wants a shot to reach the World Series for the first time in his career, vs. a return to the club he broke into the majors with in 1997.
Hunter was a key figure in the Twins becoming perennial American League Central contenders in the 2000s. Hunter running over White Sox catcher Jamie Burke in 2004 became a symbol of what the Twins were all about during that period.
After four consecutive seasons of at least 92 losses, the Twins are trying to return to prominence in the division, and Hunter, a nine-time Gold Glove Award winner, could lend an experienced hand.
Two other things that could influence Hunter’s decision: Paul Molitor, who helped Hunter develop as a player, is now the Twins manager and Eddie Guardado, a close friend during his Twins days, is going to be the bullpen coach.
The Twins are looking for outfield help. Jordan Schafer finished the season in left field but might be better suited to a utility role. Aaron Hicks is still trying to fulfill the promise he has as a former first-round pick. Hunter, a Twins first-round pick in 1993, went through similar struggles early in his career, making him a potential mentor for Hicks.