Free-agent outfielder Torii Hunter agreed to a two-year, $26 million contract Wednesday with the Detroit Tigers in the biggest free-agent signing so far this offseason, an official with direct knowledge of the negotiations told USA TODAY Sports.
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The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been finalized.
Hunter, 37, who spent the last five years with the Los Angeles Angels, rejected overtures from seven other teams to sign with the Tigers, replacing Delmon Young in the starting lineup.
Hunter, who visited Detroit on Tuesday, was overwhelmed by his meeting with Tigers owner Mike Ilitch, president David Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland. He informed them at the meeting’s conclusion that he wanted to immediately sign with the Tigers, and if they met his demand, he’d sign without talking further to any other clubs.
The Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves were also heavily in the mix when Hunter chose the Tigers, but each was balking at giving him a two-year deal.
Hunter, a nine-time Gold Glove winner, is expected to bat second in the powerful Tigers’ lineup. He hit .343 with an .854 on-base percentage in 381 plate appearances while batting second for the Angels in 2012. He hit a career-high .313 with 16 homers and 92 RBI overall last year and is a career .277 hitter with 297 homers, 1,143 RBI and 1,068 runs.
Hunter also is quite familiar with the Tigers, having spent the first 11 years of his career with the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central. The only visiting player to have played more games at Comerica Park is Chicago White Sox DH Paul Konerko.
Hunter will be just a 3½-hour drive from his son, Torii Hunter Jr., Who has committed to play football and baseball at Notre Dame.