2014 Statistics: 142 G, .286/.319/.446, 33 2B, 17 HR, 113 wRC+, 0.3 fWAR
2015 Age: 39 (born 7/18/1975)
Position: Right field/Designated hitter
Over the past couple years, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter's retirement tours have caught the most attention around the game, a fact that isn't surprising since both are legendary Yankees and future Hall of Famers. However, there have been several other memorable players from the 2000s whose careers wound down during this time, as well: Todd Helton, Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn, and more. These players might not necessarily end up in the Hall of Fame, but they are certainly All-Stars who I will remember for quite some time. Pretty soon, I'll be able to put Torii Hunter in that category as well.
A career American Leaguer, the 39-year-old Hunter has been frequent foe for the Yankees since becoming a regular for Minnesota in 1999. However, the agile young center fielder who suddenly became a power hitter in 2002 is no longer the player he once was for the Twins and Angels. During the course of his most recent two-year deal with the Tigers, Hunter has been a shadow of his formerly excellent defensive self in the outfield, though he has maintained a solid bat in the dangerous Tigers lineup. Hunter crossed the 300-homer plateau in 2013 with a .304/.334/.465 campaign that was good for a 117 wRC+. The 2014 season was more of the same, with just slightly lower numbers across the board. Even as he's aged, he's played under 140 games just once since 2005, and he hits righties just as well as lefties.
As a DH-only option, teams could do a lot worse than Hunter. Would he actually continue playing if he was forced into DH duty at this point though? For someone who's said that he's considering retirement already, it's conceivable that Hunter could just decide to hang up the spikes if he doesn't find a job to his satisfaction. He's made over $160 million playing this game, so at this point, he's probably just playing to try to make it into his first World Series after years of playoff disappointment (often at the hands of the Yankees).
Hunter's simply not a fit on the Yankees. They already have a player who does almost exactly what Hunter is capable of at this point in Carlos Beltran. Hunter was healthier and a better hitter in 2014, but there's no sense in having another DH-type who can't really play the field. Even beyond the RF/DH role, players like Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Brian McCann will likely need to get time at DH as well. Also he's kind of an ass.
At this point, Hunter seems most likely to try to find some kind of a spot on a team with playoff hopes, or perhaps return to the Twins for one final season. That's just fine with me.