By KEN PETERS
AP Sports Writer
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Outfielder Torii Hunter and the Los Angeles Angels reached a preliminary agreement Wednesday night on a $90 million, five-year contract.
The deal is subject to Hunter passing a physical.
Hunter obviously was surprised the Angels were even interested in him. On Nov. 22, the Angels agreed to a $50 million, five-year deal with Gary Matthews Jr. to play center.
"They shocked me. I didn't think they needed a center fielder," Hunter said in a conference call.
He added with a laugh, "They shocked the world."
The 32-year-old Hunter becomes the hitter the AL West champions sought to protect Vladimir Guerrero in the batting order. Hunter hit .297 with 28 homers and 107 RBIs for the Twins this year and is a seven-time Gold Glove winner.
Although Hunter's arrival would appear to make Matthews the odd man out in an outfield with Guerrero in right and Garret Anderson in left, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said it gives him more opportunity to use Guerrero and Anderson to DH.
"Torii is going to be in center field virtually every day. Gary will be in the outfield almost every day, so the other two guys will split up the DH," Scioscia said. "We want all four of those bats in the lineup."
Matthews was in New York this month to meet with baseball officials and discuss allegations that he received human grown hormone. He was sent HGH in 2004 from a pharmacy being investigated for illegal distribution of performance-enhancing drugs, The Times Union of Albany, N.Y., reported last winter. Matthews has denied using HGH, which was not banned by baseball for players with major league contracts until 2005.
New general manager Tony Reagins said he has no indications that Matthews might be suspended. Acquiring Hunter could lead to trading Matthews - perhaps to the Baltimore Orioles for shortstop Miguel Tejada.
Two days earlier, the Angels traded Gold Glove shortstop Orlando Cabrera to the Chicago White Sox for pitcher Jon Garland.
Reagins, who took over from Bill Stoneman after the season, first contacted Hunter's agent, Larry Reynolds, this week.
"They came in trying to get something done in a hurry and it worked out," Reynolds said.
Hunter recalled when the Angels eliminated his Minnesota Twins in the 2002 AL playoffs en route to the World Series title.
"I watched the Angels go to work on us. They play the game the right way. ... If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."
With Hunter gone, the low-budget Twins' attention turns to two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana. His contract expires after the 2008 season, and other teams think Minnesota will make him available if he doesn't agree to an extension.
Hunter said he also had negotiated seriously with the Texas Rangers, but he thought they were a year or two from contending. The Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals also were interested.
Staying with the Twins wasn't a real option.
"Sometimes it's time to move on," Hunter said. "Sometimes your welcome is gone."
© 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Lurkin In L.F.
However, I am resigned to the fact that it will take losing Kendrick to bring MigCab to the Angels, and unfortunately it takes quality to get quality.
What I am hoping now is that the losses can be staunched to a certain degree. The addition of Hunter means the Angels effectively cut off the playing time for Willits, Morales and Rivera.
Rivera still has one more year of arbitration left before his free agency, which would limit his attractiveness to the Marlins, who seek player who will be inexpensive for years to come. It is possible a team could sign him to a two year or two-plus-option deal and lock him in for a more extended time. Rivera has breakout potential with the bat and could be an inexpensive bopper with the right deal. His full recovery from the broken leg, as well as any long-term physical limitations he might have from that injury, remain to be seen and pose a modest risk. As I said, though, I don't think the Marlins would be interested.
Willits has a long time to go before free agency, which is after the 2012 season. The Marlins could use a CF and Willits could be a CF in the classic sense (slap hitter, good baserunner, high OBP, good speed in the OF).
But another who doesn't get his free agency until after the 2012 season is Morales. More importantly, he is signed to a deal which runs through the 2010 season, costing only $700K that year. He is arbitration eligible for 2011 and 2012, but until then he is very inexpensive and locked into that deal. His raw and developing talent, combined with his Cuban heritage (which could be a huge promotional platform for the Marlins to use in Miami) could make him a big addition to the deal. I would hope the inclusion of Morales would keep Adenhart and/or Wood from being part of the list of players included.
Finally, I would hope that if the demand from the Marlins is for 4 players from the Angels, that the Angels in return get Dan Uggla with MigCab. I dont see Uggla as a 3B substitute in Florida and Kendrick needs to play 2B to continue to develop defensively. While the Marlins could trade Uggla elsewhere, I hope the Angels make his inclusion a demand should they be compelled to provide 4 prospects instead of 3.
The Winter Meetings begin Dec 3 (week after next) and it is considered unlikely we'll have any trade of this magnitude prior to then. If MigCab talks fail for whatever reason, the known Plan B is to get Tejada from the Orioles, which will come at a far lesser cost to the Angels personnel pool, retaining Kendrick's services (since the Orioles already have Brian Roberts as 2B).
With MigCab at 3B:
With MigCab and Uggla:
Anyway you look at it, those are upgraded lineups for 2008.