Torii Hunter looks to be a good fit for the Detroit Tigers. (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
The Detroit Tigers have emerged as the front-runner to sign free-agent right fielder Torii Hunter, who reportedly spent Tuesday in Detroit meeting with team officials, who are expected to extend a two-year contract offer to the 37-year-old.
The Tigers, coming off an American League pennant-winning season, and Hunter, who craves a chance to play in his first World Series after spending the last five seasons in Anaheim, appear to be a perfect match.
Detroit is looking for a corner outfielder, preferably one who hits right-handed, and Hunter is a nine-time Gold Glove Award winner coming off one of his finest seasons, in which he hit .313 with 16 home runs and 92 runs batted in and carried the Angels for much of September.
Hunter, who hit second between Mike Trout and Albert Pujols last season, would fit nicely in the Tigers’ two hole behind leadoff man Austin Jackson and ahead of Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez, who is expected back in 2013 after missing 2012 because of injury.
Hunter is very familiar with the AL Central, having played his first nine seasons with the Minnesota Twins, and as an added bonus, Detroit is only a 3 1/2-hour drive from South Bend, Ind., where Hunter’s son, Torii Jr., a high school football and baseball star in Texas, will enroll at Notre Dame next fall.
Detroit’s stiffest competition for Hunter will probably come from the Texas Rangers. The Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies have also expressed serious interest.
The Angels made virtually no effort to re-sign Hunter outside of what Hunter considered a “low-ball” offer of $5 million in late September. Hunter has repeatedly said he wants a contract that is “fair,” and he is expected to receive a deal of at least two years and $20 million.
Because the Angels did not extend a qualifying offer, the team that signs Hunter will not have to forfeit a first-round pick, and the Angels will receive no draft-pick compensation for his loss.
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