During his season ending press conference, Dave Dombrowski stated finding a corner outfielder would be a priority. From all accounts, that' s just what the Tigers' GM is doing. He's definitely on the prowl for a veteran outfielder.
The rumor making the rounds late in the week was the Tigers' were doing their due diligence in regard to possibly trading for the Diamondbacks' Justin Upton, who would require a mother lode of top prospects to obtain. Prospects the Tigers are loathe to give up considering the questions surrounding Upton. The biggest of which is why would a team want to trade an elite talent who is under team control for the next 3 seasons?
But today's rumor swirling around the Tigers is much more realistic, being the only cost would be money.
According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Tigers are one of ten teams to contact 37 year old free agent outfielder Torii Hunter. Other teams reportedly interested in the 16 year veteran include the Dodgers (supposedly the team showing the most interest), White Sox, Rangers and Mariners.
A 4 time All-Star and winner of 9 Gold Gloves, Hunter may be 37 years old, but has shown no signs of decline. In the final season of his Angels contract, Hunter hit .313, a career high. In the 5 years since he left the Twins as a free agent to sign a $90 million deal with the Angels, Hunter has hit.286, averaging 21 home runs and 86 RBI a season playing primarily as a right fielder.
Those numbers would look great in replacing the current train wreck in right field. A skilled vet like Hunter would be a perfect fit in the number 2 spot in the Tigers' batting order. He would also supply quality defensive play in Detroit's huge outfield. Without a doubt, Hunter would fill a gaping hole in the Tigers' everyday lineup.
Hunter may fill a major need, but would his contract fit into the Tigers' already sky-high payroll? Hunter won't come cheap. All signs point to it taking at least a 2 year deal worth north of $15 million a season to sign Hunter. That's a ton of coin for a team with 3 superstar contracts on the books and core players due raises.
But going by the players the Tigers are rumored to be targeting, owner Mike Ilitch may be saying damn the money, get the best player who can help us win now.
if the Hunter (and Upton) rumors are true, it appears the Tigers' are looking to sign more than a placeholder type to man right field in 2013.