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Torii Hunter agrees to two years, $26 million from Tigers

Free-agent outfielder, 37, leaves Angels after batting a career-high .313 and declining a one-year, $5-million offer from the club. Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw is second in the National League Cy Young Award voting and the Angels' Jered Weaver is third in the American League.

November 14, 2012|By Bill Shaikin

The Angels would not necessarily have tried harder to retain Torii Hunter if they had been able to trade Vernon Wells, General Manager Jerry Dipoto said Wednesday.

Hunter agreed Wednesday to a two-year, $26-million contract with the defending American League champion Detroit Tigers. The deal is expected to be announced after he takes a physical examination Friday.

Hunter, who made his major league debut in 1997, has yet to play in a World Series. If Bobby Abreu does not play next season, Carlos Lee will be the only active major league player to play in more games than Hunter without a World Series appearance, according to baseball-reference.com.

The Angels owe $21 million in each of the next two seasons to Wells, whom they project as a reserve outfielder. Dipoto said the Angels would not necessarily have kept Hunter in their outfield had they been able to clear payroll space by trading Wells and part of his salary.

"The situations are independent," Dipoto said.

Hunter, 37, batted a career-high .313 last season. He hit .350 after the All-Star break, leading the Angels' spirited but futile bid for a playoff berth.

In a September interview on the team-owned radio station, owner Arte Moreno said this of Hunter: "If we don't figure out a way to re-sign him, we're going to get hung, aren't we?"

Moreno was unavailable for comment Wednesday, team spokesman Tim Mead said.

The Angels declined to present Hunter with a qualifying offer — one year at $13 million — thus forfeiting the compensatory draft pick they would have received since he signed elsewhere. Hunter dismissed the only offer the Angels made — one year at $5 million — as "low ball" to The Times and "disrespectful" to CBS Sports.

Dipoto declined to respond to Hunter's characterizations of the offer.

"That has no chance to end positively," Dipoto said. "It's Torii's right to say what he wants. I think the world of Torii. He's a fantastic player and a fantastic person. I wish him well. We'll certainly miss him here."

Dipoto said the Angels "made a commitment early on" to an outfield of Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo, with Wells in reserve. The salaries of the starting outfield should total less than $2 million — none of the three starters is eligible for arbitration — and the Angels are marshaling their financial resources toward pitching.

Cy Young Award winners

The local aces were runners-up in this year's Cy Young Award voting, with Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers finishing second in the National League and Jered Weaver of the Angels placing third in the American League.

Kershaw, who won the NL award last year and led the league in earned-run average for the second consecutive year, lost to 20-game winner R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets.

Voters made five choices. Of the 32 NL voters — two representing each NL city — two left Kershaw off the ballot: Bill Center of U-T San Diego and Alvin Valdez of Hoy in Miami.

David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays won the AL award. Justin Verlander of the Tigers, who won last year, finished second.

Weaver finished in the top five for the third consecutive year.

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

Twitter: @BillShaikin

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