Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press believes Torii Hunter will snag a contract in the neighborhood of four years and $60MM after this season, if his strong offensive output continues. That’s an entirely reasonable estimate and may be low.
A 32 year-old Johnny Damon received four years and $52MM, but that was two years ago and Hunter plays better defense. Alfonso Soriano might be a better point of reference at eight years, $136MM. He turned 31 shortly after he signed; Hunter will be about 32.5. Soriano was simply an experiment in center, while Hunter is a pro.
If Hunter is no longer a .480 SLG type guy, but rather a .540 SLG type (admittedly a long shot), his contract could ramp up to $16MM annually over five or even six years. The only concern is that his newfound power is coming at the expense of walks – Hunter has just three of them so far this year. It works as long as he’s hitting .330.
With Jacoby Ellsbury coming on strong in the minors, the Red Sox don’t need a huge CF expenditure. I could see the Orioles, Rangers, or Phillies splurging on Hunter this winter.