The Twins had expressed interest in bringing Hunter back for 2016 -- likely in a part-time role -- after he batted .240/.293/.409 with 22 home runs and 81 RBI for them this season. However, the 40-year-old has decided that it’s time to step away from the game.
"I’m sad because it’s all I’ve known for half of my life," Hunter said. "This great game of baseball has done so much for me. I have learned a lot of lessons. They say baseball is life and life is baseball, and I used baseball and applied it to my life. So I got through a lot of hardships and a lot of hard times and I learned from them and I made adjustments, which you have to do in the game of baseball as well as the game of life. So baseball taught me a lot. But mentally, I think it’s time. I still love the game, but time has taken a toll on me mentally and physically."
While his on-base percentage has decline steadily in recent years, Hunter overall remained a pretty productive player into his late 30s. He’ll finish his career having batted .277/.331/.461 with 353 home runs, 1,391 RBI and 195 stolen bases. Hunter made the All-Star team five times and won nine Gole Glove awards while playing 12 years with the Twins, five with the Angels and two with the Tigers.
Fade to Black in D.C.?
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo hired a manager with virtually zero experience the last time around, but it appears he’s ready to move to the opposite end of the spectrum this time.
Former Padres skipper Bud Black and former Giants, Cubs and Reds manager Dusty Baker both received their second interviews with the Nationals on Monday. They’re the only candidates to have interviewed twice and appear to be the only two options the Nats are considering at this point.
Between Black and Baker, you have 29 years of major league managing experience, with a combined four Manager of the Year awards (Baker has won three of them). That’s quite a stark contrast to Matt Williams, who had only some Arizona Fall League managing experience on his resume before becoming Rizzo’s hand-picked man for the Washington dugout. Williams won a Manager of the Year award himself in 2014 but fell out of favor in a big way in 2015 and was dismissed at the conclusion of the regular season.
Black is viewed by most as the favorite to land the job. While Black’s career 649-713 (.477) record and just two winning seasons with the Padres leaves something to be desired, he has a great reputation in the game and is especially skilled at handling a pitching staff. The 58-year-old is also reportedly being considered for the Dodgers’ manager opening and has always been a West Coast guy. However, Dodgers director of player development Gabe Kapler looks to be the heavy favorite to move into the managerial seat there.
Whether it’s Black or Baker that gets the nod for the Nats, they’ll be moving into a desirable position. Yes, the Nationals fell short of the playoffs in 2015 and face the prospect of losing Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond, Denard Span and Doug Fister in free agency. They could also use a bullpen makeover. That said, Rizzo doesn’t figure to sit on his hands this winter and even if he doesn’t add much the roster is still very talented.
Fall Classic Notes
It’s been a long three-day wait since the conclusion of the ALCS, but the World Series is ready to get underway on Tuesday. Here are some noteworthy items that came from the media session on Monday:
-- Royals manager Ned Yost revealed his rotation, and there were no surprises. It will be Edinson Volquez in Game 1 and he will be followed by Johnny Cueto, Yordano Ventura and Chris Young. While it was Cueto’s turn to pitch, having him take the ball in Game 2 will allow him to come back for a potential Game 6 at Kauffman Stadium, where he’s been more effective since joining Kansas City. Mets skipper Terry Collins had already revealed his rotation previously, as he will line up Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz.
-- Collins said that he enters the Fall Classic with “no concern” about Yoenis Cespedes’ left shoulder. Cespedes was given a cortisone injection last Thursday after exiting Game 4 of the NLCS with some inflammation. For what it’s worth, the outfielder said Monday that he’s “110 percent.” Collins also revealed Monday that Curtis Granderson jammed a thumb on a slide during the NLCS, but he’s expected to be fine.
-- The Mets could add Juan Uribe to their World Series roster. Uribe has been on the shelf since September 25 with a bruised chest, but he’s been working out the last few days without any setbacks. He would be a potential designated hitter option for games in Kansas City and power bat off the bench in New York. Collins already announced that Kelly Johnson will DH in Game 1.
-- Royals infielder Cheslor Cuthbert and shortstop prospect Raul Mondesi are working out with the club and it’s possible one of them could be added to the roster in place of Terrance Gore. Cuthbert played in 19 games for Kansas City this season, but Mondesi turned just 20 in July and hasn’t played above Double-A. They’re likely just contingency plans.
Donnie Baseball Interviews in Miami
It was pretty easy to connect the dots on this one.
Even before Don Mattingly was let go by the Dodgers, there had been reports of the Marlins’ interest in him. Owner Jeffrey Loria has long been an admirer of the Yankees and apparently of longtime Yankee Mattingly, having maintained a relationship with him. On Monday, Mattingly interviewed for the Marlins’ vacant managerial position.
Mattingly referred to his departure from the Dodgers as a “mutual decision” and said that he hoped to manage again in "the near future." It seems obvious that Loria has wanted to hire Donnie Baseball all along and was just waiting it out until he was officially let go by Los Angeles. Expect him to be named Miami’s new skipper during a World Series off day or after the conclusion of the Fall Classic.
Mattingly went 446-363 (.551) in five seasons with the Dodgers and helped guide them to three consecutive National League West crowns. However, he made it to just one NLCS and had trouble at times dealing with the club’s colorful clubhouse. President Andrew Friedman inherited Mattingly as his manager and it seemed like only a matter of time before he put one of “his” guys in the dugout (as previously mentioned, director of player development Gabe Kapler looks likely to be that guy).
In Miami, Mattingly will take over a club that entered 2015 with playoff hopes but finished it 20 games below .500. The Marlins have superstar building blocks in Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez and some nice offensive pieces like Dee Gordon and Christian Yelich, but they have some work to do this winter, especially when it comes to their rotation.
Quick Hits: Yasmani Grandal required merely an arthroscopic procedure – not a labrum repair – on his left shoulder last week ... Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said Monday that he'll be "in the game" on free agent David Price ... Anthopoulos said that he still envisions Roberto Osuna as a starter long term ... Devon Travis and Ryan Goins are expected to compete for the Blue Jays’ second base job next spring ... The Blue Jays are expected to pick up R.A. Dickey’s $12 million option for 2016 ... Domonic Brown has elected free agency ... The Lotte Giants of the Korea Baseball Organization will post outfielder Ah-seop Son for major league bids this winter ... The Mariners officially announced Scott Servais as their new manager Monday ... The Phillies officially hired Matt Klentak as their new general manager Monday ... The Brewers hired Pat Murphy as their new bench coach ...