With all but two teams in offseason mode, most of MLB is looking ahead at moves that can be made to ensure their team is still playing this time next year.
For the Minnesota Twins, things like the future of Sonny Gray and filling holes in the roster need to be figured out this winter. Gray’s pending free agency is the biggest question mark because it figures to be the most expensive decision the front office needs to make. If he walks, attention turns to what resources can be used to acquire a replacement — whether that be internally or through a trade.
One thing the Twins don’t have to figure out is the managerial situation. Rocco Baldelli was announced as returning for next season and potentially beyond. It was a bit cryptic, as Minnesota quietly exercised an option for an unknown period of time that is at least beyond 2025.
Whatever that means, it seems Rocco is coming back.
Why are we talking about managers and the Twins if there isn’t an opening here? It’s because a former Twins player is a candidate to return to the game as manager of the Los Angeles Angels.
Torii Hunter emerging as candidate for Angels managerial job
According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, Torii Hunter has emerged as a candidate to become the next Los Angeles Angels manager.
"Torii Hunter, the five-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Glove winner, has emerged as a candidate to fill the Los Angeles Angels’ managerial vacancy. Hunter spent five years playing for the Angels and is tremendously regarded by owner Arte Moreno for his leadership and baseball acumen," Nightengale reported.
Hunter isn't the only former Angels player the team is looking at, with Darin Erstad and Tim Salmon both being under consideration as well.
It’s a bit weird that his time there has become a blind spot in at least my memory, but Hunter’s first stop after leaving the Twins back in 2008 when he left to sign with the Angels on a $90 million deal. He’s now best remembered for his stints with the Twins and Tigers, but he spent five years in Los Angeles. Maybe I;m just blocking it out because him leaving after 10 years was so painful.
Perhaps the memory of him failing to catch a David Ortiz grand slam in the ALCS while with the Tigers has left that much of an impression on us.
Hunter did return to the Twins for the final year of his career in 2015, but he’s been mostly quiet since his retirement, which makes him an interesting candidate to consider. He has no managerial experience outside of the businesses he’s launched post-retirement, but he hasn’t come up through the coaching system the way other players have. He wouldn’t be the first manager to have jumped straight into the Majors, but his candidacy is interesting in that regard.
Th being said, Hunter returning to the game would be an exciting development. He’s not the only guy in the running for the gig, and it might end up being more of a starter job than elsewhere in the league. With Shohei Ohtani expected to leave in free agency, the future is murky for the Angels, but one bright spot might be the unexpected return of a Twins legend.