Angels Sign Torii Hunter

Dave · November 22, 2007 at 7:48 am · Filed Under Mariners 

I called Torii Hunter a free agent landmine, and so it’s with some joy that I announce that the Angels have signed him to a 5 year, $90 million contract. As is the deal with most free agent contracts, this is just way too much money for a guy who isn’t as good as his reputation. The Angels will now shift Gary Matthews Jr to a corner OF spot, and Vlad/Garret Anderson will rotate between the other corner OF spots and DH.

This will improve the Angels outfield defense dramatically, but Hunter’s not the impact bat that the Angels have been shopping for. If they land Miguel Cabrera, that’s something else, but this is simply acquiring another useful but not great player at a contract that limits their ability to obtain real star quality talent down the road.

Or, put it another way – they Angels just gave Torii Hunter the same contract that the Mariners gave Ichiro five months ago. Advantage, Mariners.

Also, Happy Thanksgiving everyone.


117 Responses to “Angels Sign Torii Hunter”

  1. _David_ on November 25th, 2007 9:55 pm

    Teams that have a legitimate shot at signing him shouldn’t trade for him.

  2. George Kaplan on November 25th, 2007 10:31 pm

    96–Matthews has a full no-trade clause through 2009. Moreno can’t trade Matthews without some form of compensation in exchange for waiving that clause, and he can’t unilaterally cut Matthews unless he wishes to get involved in a lawsuit he could easily lose. With that in mind, I suspect Everett hasn’t researched his rumors before spreading them further.
    93–Pete, The Angels payroll (according to Cot’s) was $110M in 2007. Adding Garland at $12M and Hunter at $18M, and subtracting OrCab at $9M and Colon at $16M (I think you forgot that contract coming off the books) takes the Angels to $115M, and the pay increases add $6.5M (roughly), bringing the total to $121.5M.

    Thus the $130M number happens only with a huge increase to both Frankie and Figgins, or with an additional trade being made.

    If Tejada is the player received in trade, we know the increase will be $13M. If the player is MigCab, the arbitration bump he receives from his $7M in 2007 is expected to be to $10M. In the latter case, the Angels could attempt to avoid arbitration and sign MigCab to a long-term deal (4-6 years), backloading the contract and/or putting a substantial amount of the deal in signing bonus, which doesn’t count against the salary cap (to the best of my knowledge). Anderson’s deal comes to option year in 2009 and if the team buys him out it has a net savings of $11M. Likewise, we don’t know the terms on Hunter’s deal, and if it features both the large signing bonus and deferred salary of Ichiro’s deal, then its contribution to the payroll total is diminished.

    Finally, the team does have a viable SS in Aybar, who showed his stuff in AAA. His infrequent playing time in 2007 and stint on the DL prevented his blossoming, but the team is convinced he can step up in the role. No, he isn’t the hitter OrCab was (not yet, anyway), but the team already has upgraded offensively, even without Tejada or MigCab. Overlooked in the Hunter deal is the ability to put Matthews in RF and DH Vlad most of the season, keeping his legs in better shape throughout the season. If you want to talk about wear and tear from artificial turf, look at Guerrero’s knees after six seasons at Olympic Park in Montreal. By comparison, Hunter is in much better shape physically, even accounting for the 4 seasons Guerrero has been on the grass in Anaheim.

    Finally, a Series appearance–I don’t even think it needs to be a win–would help boost the advertising revenue for the team, which raises Moreno’s break-even point. The Hispanic market in Southern California continues to grow in economic influence, and marketing a team with Vlad, Miguel Cabrera and Escobar (among others) allows the Angels to tap into that market.

    Moreno is, at the end of the day, not Tom Hicks. He isn’t going to hand out a deal he can’t cover in the long run. And while Hunter’s $18M looks like a lot in Nov of 2007, who knows what Granderson and Sizemore will be getting per year as free agents 5 years hence? The salary inflation annually is staggering. Just about every free agent contract except A-Rod and Manny’s has seemed like a bargain by the time of the final season (assuming the player was still producing). That means the only variable is the ability of Hunter’s body to live up to the contract, just as we know Ichiro takes great care of his body, but he’ll be 38 in the final year of his deal, earning the same $90M over 5 years.

  3. Grizz on November 26th, 2007 1:08 am

    Finally, the team does have a viable SS in Aybar, who showed his stuff in AAA.

    Huh? In AAA, Aybar has hit a fringy 285/327/410 playing over half his games in extreme hitters parks. Even Wilson Valdez has hit 303/356/381 in AAA.

    Wishcast all you want, but the Angels just paid Ferrari prices for a Cadillac at best, still have holes at 3B and SS, and are stuck paying $21 million for two below average corner outfielders in Matthews and Anderson (likely to return to his 2005 and 2006 levels in his age 36 season).

  4. Evan on November 26th, 2007 1:24 am

    I’d bet on Hunter returning to his 2005-2006 level, as well.

  5. Plim on November 26th, 2007 4:50 am

    Looks like the Angels will lose both the Garland and Anderson contracts this year, thats 12 and 14 mil respectively. Looking even deeper, it appears they only have two players signed beyond 2009. If they are going to be hurting for cash, it doesnt seem it from looking at what they have outstanding and the number of players they will be able to sign at good prices due to the team having them under club control.

    Since we are all placing bets, I’d bet on them to win the west again and finish ten games up on us.

  6. George Kaplan on November 26th, 2007 6:13 am

    101–Hey, I didn’t say he was Derek Jeter Jr. I simply said he was better offensively than his 2007 showed. His defense is how he got the job, and he has excellent range and very good hands. He may make rookie mistakes, but he figures to have greater range than OrCab, who wasless effective going into the hole with each passing year. Aybar is also arguably the fastest runner on the team; Haynes might be faster, but Haynes doesn’t figure to play everyday, and both are faster than Figgins. As Aybar learns how to work for the walk and improves as a contact hitter, he will be an very good threat for the stolen base, which is a big part of Scioscia’s game. I imagine he’ll hit 9th, as Figgins did for years.

    At the end of the day, OrCab didn’t figure to replay his 2007 season in 2008 and it will be the final year on his deal. Branch Rickey always said, “better to trade a player a year too soon than a year too late.” Coming off a career year, Reagins received maximum value for him and began the first of what may be several moves designed to bring a big bat or several medium bats to beef up the offense.

    103–I don’t know if you meant *position players*, but players signed past 2009 include Matthews, Hunter, Morales, Shields and Speier. Guerrero and Lackey figure to get extensions, while Frankie Rodriguez may or may not get a long-term deal.

    Finally, to amend my earlier post, I noticed since then that Figgins is under contract for 2008 with a salary bump of $1.25M so his impact on the payroll is known. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him traded before Opening Day depending upon what happens with MigCab or Tejada. The Angels might flip him for another role player and use Aybar at SS and Izturis at 2B (assuming Kendrick is traded). LIke OrCab, his value may never be higher. Until the MigCab story is told, the rest of the tale can’t be guessed.

  7. CCW on November 26th, 2007 9:06 am

    Torii Hunter’s WARP (Essentially, Wins Over Replacement Level, a Baseball Prospectus Metric) over the past 4 years:

    2004: 4.2
    2005: 3.6
    2006: 5.4
    2007: approximately 6.5

    let’s say, for the next few years, Hunter regresses a bit down to 4.5 WARP.

    In Dave’s market rates column (, he suggests that “market” for a free agent is $4M per marginal win (i.e. wins above what a replacement level player would produce). At $18M/year, and assuming that Hunter regresses to his 2004-2006 levels, that is exactly what the Angels will be paying Hunter next year. In other words, I suspect the Angels are paying approximately “market” for Hunter. We know that paying the market price for free agents is significantly higher than the market price for players prior to free agency.

    Here is the question, though: if you’re the Angels, and you see a window for winning it all, how do get significantly better without turning to free agents? I’d argue that the last $20-$40M that Moreno wants to spend is by far the toughest money to spend efficiently and that, as strange as it is to say, his hands are somewhat tied. It’s not all that different than the BoSox overpaying for Varitek or Lowell or Matsuzaka, and doing so intelligently and knowingly.

  8. Dave on November 26th, 2007 9:12 am

    Stop using WARP.

  9. Grizz on November 26th, 2007 11:25 am

    Hey, I didn’t say he was Derek Jeter Jr. I simply said he was better offensively than his 2007 showed.

    No, you said more than that. He said he was “a viable SS” and that he “showed his stuff in AAA.” His AAA numbers, when park adjusted, are bad, and he was downright terrible in the majors. Saying he is “better offensively than his 2007 showed” is a pretty empty statement considering that he would need significant improvement just to catch the AL’s worst hitting regular SS, Tony Pena Jr. And while Aybar may be fast, he is not a very good baserunner (only 65% success rate in the minors), and the old adage “you can’t steal first base” applies.

  10. George Kaplan on November 26th, 2007 12:21 pm

    Grizz–Without doing some research I don’t have time to do, I don’t know if Tony Pena Jr spent a month on the DL with an injury to his throwing hand, or was shuttled among three or four different positions to get into the lineup. Aybar played most of his games for the Angels out of position–35 starts at 2B versus 7 at SS. Toss in some games started at LF and 3B, plus some late-inning appearances in RF, and it is clear Aybar was getting an education on the different spots on the diamond, something Scioscia values (versatility).

    I believe his game will improve if he is allowed one spot to focus on and grow at. As such, as long as his defense is equal to or better than Orlando Cabrera’s, he is a “viable SS” in my book.

  11. Grizz on November 26th, 2007 2:30 pm

    You don’t have the ten seconds to look up Tony Pena Jr. on Really?

    The problem is Aybar did not hit when he was playing SS in Salt Lake or with the Agnels in 2006 either. And per THT, Aybar was below average at SS in 2006 and below average at SS, 2B, and 3B in 2007. Even assuming he is a league average SS, he is still a significant liability overall.

    Viable? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  12. scott19 on November 26th, 2007 3:00 pm

    105: If they land Miggy Cabrera, try more like about 20 games ahead of us.

  13. George Kaplan on November 26th, 2007 6:22 pm

    OK, Grizz. I have been around enough boards to identify the Prof Irwin Corey in residence. Clearly you know everything and the rest of us poor slobs just muddle around.

    Best of luck to you.

  14. Grizz on November 26th, 2007 10:03 pm

    This is not a board.

  15. RealRhino on November 27th, 2007 4:13 pm

    Wouldn’t be surprised to see Santana end up with whoever signs Silva.

  16. joser on November 28th, 2007 6:05 pm

    With the addition of Hunter, whose five-year, $90-million deal includes a $2.5-million bonus and calls for him to make $16 million in 2008, $17.5 million in 2009 and $18 million in each of the final three years of the contract, the Angels’ projected 2008 payroll is about $125 million.

    Moreno said that is “over budget,” but he did not rule out boosting the payroll for an impact player. In addition to Cabrera, the Angels are pursuing Baltimore shortstop Miguel Tejada and Minnesota pitcher Johan Santana.

    “Everybody makes a budget; it’s my call whether we exceed it,” Moreno said. “If you’re doing something for the short term, a Band-Aid thing, to me, it’s not worth going over budget. If you think it’s going to make your business better in the long term, then you make the investment. We want to get better every year and to compete at the highest level. Our focus is on winning championships.”

    LA Times (Most of the story is about Florida jerking everybody around, asking the moon for Cabrera).

  17. George Kaplan on November 29th, 2007 4:45 pm

    It’s like I’m a psychic or something…

    BTW, based upon the comments made by Moreno at the press conference, I wouldn’t be surprised if the trade for Cabrera doesn’t get made. He made it sound as if agreements in principle were made (twice), then the Marlins upped their demands.

    If so, then Moreno may exit altogether. As Hunter said, Moreno put a deal on the table for him with a 24 hour lifespan. He didn’t want to get played against other teams. As it turns out, Hunter liked the terms and the team. Benifest may find out that the Angels won’t allow themselves to get jerked around much longer, especially with the Winter Meetings coming up next week. Fewer players in trade yields Tejada, not a player of Miguel Cabrera’s class (anymore, anyway), but still an upgrade over the 2007 Angels offense, and Tejada may be reborn playing on a team with a legit chance of winning a championship after those years in Baltimore. The Angels would most likely get to keep Kendrick as well.

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