Nick Swisher has barely been a free agent for two days, but the Yankees appear serious to move on. According to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, the Yankees are interested in outfielder Torii Hunter.
Hunter is coming off a five-year, $90 million contract. He’s 37-years-old and is no longer the player he used to be. However, as the Yankees attempt to lower their payroll to $189 million he may be the perfect candidate. He will probably sign just a one or two year contract, he’s still a plus outfielder, is coming off a good offensive year where he hit .313/.365/.451, and is known to be a great clubhouse presence.
There are better free agent outfielders, there are younger ones too (he’s our Top 10 free agent outfielders list), but Hunter possibly provides the best bang for your buck. Especially if the Yankees can grab him on a one year deal, that will give them flexibility to stay under the $189 million payroll mark and gives them the ability to dump him if he is over the hill. Whereas some of the other options could be a bitter pill to swallow if the Yankees sign them to a long-term deal and it doesn’t work out.
Even on a two year deal though, he wouldn’t be so bad. That would provide the Yankees with the perfect stopgap before their talented minor league outfielders, Mason Williams, Tyler Austin, and Slade Heathcott, are ready for the Bronx.
Anytime the Yankees are signing a 37-year-old it does make me nervous, but Hunter has been surprisingly consistent as he ages though. His OPS+ was good for 132 this season and it was 124 over the past three. The three years before that? It was 120. So he’s not exactly dropping off.
Get in the game — is Torii Hunter a good fit for the Yankees or should they go after somebody else to replace Nick Swisher?