Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter is through year one of his two-year deal signed in November last year. He’ll turn 39 years old on July 18, so the thought was that the contract would create a clear path into retirement, but Hunter sounds eager to continue playing beyond that. Via MLB.com:
Asked Friday, prior to his team’s American League Championship Series workout at Fenway Park, if he plans on retiring after the 2014 season, Hunter said: “Nope. I think I’m going to play five more years. I’m 28, man!”
The last part was a joke, and the media contingent laughed, but Hunter wants to stay with the Tigers a little longer and is certain that next season won’t be his last in the big leagues.
“No, it won’t be. It won’t be,” Hunter said. “I want to play past that contract.”
Hunter had a renaissance season of sorts, hitting .304 with an even .800 OPS and 17 home runs. He is only a year removed from a 5.8 WAR season with the Angels, per Baseball Reference, and he finished the regular season with 2.1 in 2013, so he certainly has something left in the tank.
Whether Hunter will prolong his career with the Tigers or with another club is another conversation entirely. They will still have their core players in 2015, including Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Justin Verlander, and Anibal Sanchez, but it’s hard to tell if they’ll produce at such a high level that the TIgers will continue to be a powerhouse.
The Dodgers have pulled off their first blockbuster trade of the offseason, sending Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Charlie Culberson, Adrian Gonzalez and cash considerations to the Braves for Matt Kemp, per announcements from both teams. The Braves are set to designate Gonzalez for assignment on Monday, making him a free agent.
Kemp, 33, had a down year with the Braves in 2017, hitting a career-low -0.5 fWAR in 115 games with the club. At the plate, he slashed a modest .276/.318/.463 with 19 home runs and a .781 OPS through 467 plate appearances, but was hampered by a nagging left hamstring strain through most of the season. This will be his 10th campaign with the Dodgers.
Whether or not Kemp can rebound during his second stint in Los Angeles is almost beside the point, however. The deal is effectively a salary dump to end all salary dumps. Offloading multiple one-year contracts for McCarthy, Kazmir and Gonzalez should bring the Dodgers back under the $197 million luxury tax threshold and position them to make a run at some of the big fish in next year’s free agent pool. It’s also worth noting that they may not keep Kemp around for long — per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, the club appears as likely to flip the veteran outfielder as they are to use him. As for the Braves, they not only rid themselves of the $43 million due Kemp through 2020, but added some rotation and infield depth with McCarthy and Culberson and can now give top prospect Ronald Acuna a legitimate tryout in left field.