Torii Hunter, one of the Royals’ top outfield targets in free agency, has opted to finish his career in the American League Central Division. But he will play for Minnesota, the organization that drafted him in 1993, rather than the Royals, who have pursued Hunter multiple times over the years without any luck.
Hunter agreed Tuesday night to a one-year, $10.5 million deal with the Twins, according to multiple reports. USA Today first reported the agreement.
Hunter emerged as a priority for the Royals once their World Series run ended. Even at 39, he filled a variety of needs as a quality hitter and a veteran presence with experience in the division. Now the team must look elsewhere.
From the outset of this offseason, Kansas City has prioritized pitching. But they still must find a right fielder and a designated hitter. Billy Butler already signed a three-year, $30 million deal with Oakland that the Royals felt they could not match. Team officials scouted Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas, but shied away from his price tag. He is reportedly finalizing a six-year, $68.5 million contract with Arizona.
General manager Dayton Moore is open to a reunion with outfielder Nori Aoki, and has had dialogue with his representatives. Aoki may be the team’s best option, considering a thin outfield market. The Royals could become more intrigued by either Melky Cabrera or Nick Markakis, though the club has yet to be linked to either player.
On the DH front, the team has expressed interest in players like Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales. They also could give at-bats to 27-year-old minor-league Carlos Peguero, who swatted 30 home runs in Class AAA Omaha last season.
The Royals declined to tender a contract to left-handed reliever Francisley Bueno before the MLB deadline Tuesday night, making him a free agent and leaving the 40-man roster with 38 players. The club tendered contracts to all its arbitration-eligible players, including relievers Louis Coleman and Tim Collins.