Torii Hunter had plenty of nice things to say about the Rangers as the regular season came to a close.
Adrian Beltre was Hunter's choice for MVP and he waxed rhapsodic about Yu Darvish's pitching after his last appearance against the Angels. We're sure Hunter was being honest in both cases, but someone looking to connect other dots could look to Hunter's contract status.
Hunter's a free agent this offseason and he's hitting the market off perhaps his strongest overall season. The Angels have added a lot of payroll in recent seasons and they have needs that are harder to fill than the hole Hunter would leave behind in the outfield. That means he could wind up as a 37-year-old outfielder on the open market and it never hurts to do a little marketing.
The Rangers are going to have a hole of their own to fill in the outfield when Josh Hamilton leaves, although it's hard to know just how they'd begin to approach it. Hunter has played right field in Anaheim for the last three years and he isn't going to move back to center at this point, so the Rangers would still need to think about a solution there if Hunter is on the radar.
Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com is pretty confident that Hunter will be on their radar, but it feels like a strange place to buy high for the Rangers. As mentioned before, Hunter's 37 and that means he's not all that great a bet to put together another season as good as this one over the life of any contract.
That includes a one-year deal, although that's pretty much the only way it makes sense for the Rangers. If there were other moves to balance out the lineup, Hunter as a corner outfielder/right-handed source of power would definitely work out on paper.
It's not a centerpiece move, though, and it feels like the Rangers are going to have one of those up their sleeves this offseason. With Hamilton going, the team is going to change and the Rangers, with such a steady stream of talent coming up the pike, might well decide to embrace it.
Hunter doesn't really fit with that model, but it will be a little while until we know their course.