Going into this offseason, there were seemingly two key problem areas that the Minnesota Twins needed to address. Pitching was once again a problem last season, and the Twins looked to resolve the issue by signing Ervin Santana. The other problem was outfield defense, and the Twins made that presumptively worse by signing Torii Hunter. With Nori Aoki now off of the market, how bad did they miss?
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To be fair, the problem position heading into the offseason was left field. Occupied as a revovling door by names like Josh Willingham, Chris Parmelee, Oswaldo Arcia, and even Eduardo Nunez, the Twins left field situation was awful. To fix the situation, the Twins signed Torii Hunter to a one-year deal worth $10 million. Hunter has a more than capable bat, but he’s a below average defender, and now puts Arcia into a full-time left field role. As a whole, the defense in the grass gets considerably worse.
Today, the San Francisco Giants signed Nori Aoki to a one-year $4 million deal.
Aoki turned down other offers that included multiple years because of the ability to play for a contender, and the city of San Francisco. With that in mind, the Twins never had a logical chance in landing him in the first place. Also, to be fair, they never pursued him either. That being said, let’s put some of this into context.
Nori Aoki is regarded as a solid defensive outfielder who can use his speed to cover ground. Although he was replaced often by Lorenzo Cain or Jarrod Dyson late in games for the Royals, many teams don’t have that level of outfield depth. At the plate however, may be where things get more interesting.
Look at the following numbers:
- .285/.349/.360 $4 million/1 year
- .276/.342/.386 $44 million/ 4 years
- .286/.319/.446 $10 million/1 year
Those numbers above represent Aoki, Nick Markakis, and Hunter respectively. Despite Hunter providing nothing more at the plate besides power, and being worse in the field and six years his senior, he commanded $6 million more on his one year deal than Aoki. Furthermore, Markakis, essentially stole money from the Braves based on the perceived notion of who he is as a player.
When it comes to the Twins, the biggest issue here is the amount of money offered to Hunter. I am the last person who will ever argue salaries, as they are completely irrelevant in a sport without salary caps. However, what a contract does, is give you a comparison point amongst players. The argument based upon the two contracts is that a 38-year-old Hunter is $6 million more important to the Twins than a 32-year-old Aoki.
Again, Nori Aoki was not going to sign with the Twins, so the $6 million mark has to be adjusted. With the in mind however, I don’t believe there is any way you can say the difference in playing for a competitor or not should come at a cost of $6 million.
At the end of the day, Torii Hunter wanted to come home and have the ability to mentor some younger players, that’s fine. It does appear that the Twins front office may have gotten too starry-eyed with the idea however, and handed over a blank check to the Twins fan favorite.
Here’s to hoping the defensive issues left unattended to in the outfield don’t rear their ugly head, and that Torii’s bat makes a significant difference in the lineup.