Author: Aaron Gleeman

Oakland Athletics v Detroit Tigers

Twins “have already expressed interest” in Torii Hunter


Last month when Torii Hunter indicated that he’ll likely put off retirement and return for a 19th season I suggested that a return to Minnesota as the Twins’ left fielder might make sense for both sides.

And now Darren Wolfson of 1500-ESPN in Minnesota reports that, sure enough, the Twins “have already expressed interest” in Hunter on the first day they can do so with free agents.

Hunter has made it clear that he’d like to re-sign with the Tigers and, if that doesn’t happen, presumably he’d like to spend his age-39 season playing for a contender. Minnesota does not fit that description, but if contenders don’t show much interest in Hunter the Twins could emerge as a viable destination.

His defense has slipped from Gold Glove-caliber in center field to below average in right field, but Hunter hit .286 with 17 homers and a .765 OPS in 142 games. He was drafted by the Twins in 1993 and played for them until 2007, when he left as a free agent.

Roundup of players to receive $15.3 million qualifying offers

Division Series - Baltimore Orioles v Detroit Tigers - Game Three

We’ve been tracking the $15.3 million qualifying offers as news about them has rolled in for each player, but now that the deadline has passed here’s a complete list of every free agent who received a qualifying offer.

Melky Cabrera, Blue Jays (HBT write-up)

Nelson Cruz, Orioles (HBT write-up)

Michael Cuddyer, Rockies (HBT write-up)

Francisco Liriano, Pirates (HBT write-up)

Russell Martin, Pirates (HBT write-up)

Victor Martinez, Tigers (HBT write-up)

Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers (HBT write-up)

David Robertson, Yankees (HBT write-up)

Pablo Sandoval, Giants (HBT write-up)

Ervin Santana, Braves (HBT write-up)

Max Scherzer, Tigers (HBT write-up)

James Shields, Royals (HBT write-up)

Players can accept or decline the one-year, $15.3 million contract to return to their original team. If they decline and sign elsewhere, their original team receives draft pick compensation and their new team forfeits a draft pick.

In the first two years of the qualifying offer system zero of the 22 players who received offers accepted them, but that seems likely to change this year. Cuddyer in particular seems almost sure to take the $15.3 million and there are also several other candidates to do so.

Rockies make $15.3 million qualifying offer to Michael Cuddyer

Michael Cuddyer Getty

Rarely does a qualifying offer catch everyone by surprise, but the Rockies just did that by making one to Michael Cuddyer.

Cuddyer hit .307 with an .886 OPS in three seasons for the Rockies, but he also missed 206 of a possible 486 games, including playing just 49 games this season. He’s a 36-year-old corner outfielder/first baseman who rates poorly defensively and … well, $15.3 million is a lot.

It seems pretty obvious that Cuddyer should accept the one-year, $15.3 million contract and return to the Rockies for another season, because if he declines the number of teams interested in giving him a big contract and losing a draft pick to do so figures to be very, very limited.

Pirates make $15.3 million qualifying offers to Russell Martin and Francisco Liriano

Milwaukee Brewers v Pittsburgh Pirates

Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports that the Pirates have extended $15.3 million qualifying offers to catcher Russell Martin and left-hander Francisco Liriano.

Both players have the option of accepting one-year, $15.3 million deals to return to Pittsburgh or declining to hit the open market, at which point the Pirates would receive draft pick compensation if they sign elsewhere.

Given the scarcity of quality catching options available Martin should have little trouble securing multi-year offers even with draft pick compensation attached, but it’s possible that Liriano could run into a problem similar to Ervin Santana last offseason when many interested teams aren’t willing to forfeit a draft pick to sign him.

Of course, considering how well Liriano has pitched and how much top-of-the-rotation starters tend to go for perhaps that won’t be the case, but his inconsistent track record makes it an interesting situation.

White Sox claim J.B. Shuck off waivers from Indians

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Oakland Athletics
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J.B. Shuck, whom the Angels traded to the Indians for cash considerations in September, has now been claimed off waivers by the White Sox.

Shuck received Rookie of the Year votes in 2013 after hitting .293 in 129 games for the Angels as a 26-year-old, but his .697 OPS was hardly impressive for a corner outfielder and he fell apart this season while hitting .145.

He also spent a lot time at Triple-A this year, where he hit .320, and Shuck’s track record is such that he could be a decent bench player. But his lack of power figures to keep him from emerging as more than that.