DETROIT — After Friday's press conference — during which the Tigers finalized their four-year contract with designated hitter, Victor Martinez — president and GM Dave Dombrowski talked about the teams options and whether the Club would bring back right fielder, Torii Hunter.
With the signing of Martinez and the Tigers' recent acquisition of centerfielder, Anthony Gose, Dombrowski said he called Hunter Friday to let him know the team would not be bringing Hunter back. The 39-year-old free agent clearly wanted to stay in Detroit, but he was also seeking to play full time.
Dombrowski met with Hunter's agent, Larry Reynolds, in Arizona during the GM meetings and the two kept in touch. The Tigers GM had told Reynolds that if the Tigers were able to sign Martinez, it would "preclude" the Tigers from going after Hunter strongly.
Hunter had thought of retiring after the 2014 season, but Reynolds confirmed with Dombrowski that Hunter wants to continue playing.
"(Hunter) wants to go out there and play on an everyday basis, if he can, and he thinks he might be able to play for a couple of years," Dombrowski said. "So, in our situation, I said, well he's probably not going to fit then, at this point. I wanted to wait until we got this deal done, which we did."
Hunter and Dombrowski spoke via a phone conversation after the Tigers informed Reynolds they would not seek a new contract with Hunter. The Dombrowski thanked Hunter for everything he'd done for the team, and said if anything changed with the team then the Tigers would be open to bringing him back. However, as it currently stands, Hunter will not be returning to Detroit, at least, not in a Tigers uniform.
"We knew he would like to play here, if it was possible, but just the way we shape up - we had to get a center fielder," Dombrowski said. "Then all of a sudden, when you look where we are with (J.D.) Martinez and (Rajai) Davis out there, there's just really not enough playing time to go around."
During his two years with the Tigers, Hunter hit .295/.327/.456 with 34 home runs, 70 doubles, seven triples, 167 RBI, 161 runs scored, and 49 walks in 142 games.
Defensively, Hunter struggled, particularly in the first half of the 2014 season. He was better in the second half, but it was still a far cry from the nine-time Gold Glove defender that came to Detroit.
Hunter later tweeted he wouldn't be returning to the Tigers Friday night, following the team's announcement.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>I had a great 2yrs with the Tigers organization. Thank you fans for accepting and supporting me on the... <a href="http://t.co/cPmnbC2rpT">http://t.co/cPmnbC2rpT</a></p>— Torii Hunter (@toriihunter48) <a href="https://twitter.com/toriihunter48/status/533428292138041344">November 15, 2014</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
He also spoke to Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji about his time, thanking the Tigers and fans for the two years he spent in Detroit.
"I just want to say thank you to the fans for supporting me and for the way they travel," Hunter said. "That fan base is awesome. Victor (Martinez) was the main priority, I said that from day one. After the season he had, it was a no-brainer. You gotta bring him back. Just because we have to part ways doesn't mean I don't have a lot of friends in the organization and in the city of Detroit. I want to thank the community for bringing me in, making me part of the Tigers family, part of Detroit. I had a blast in my two years there."