Twins pick up Hunter's 2007 option
Center fielder will remain with club for $12 million
Torii Hunter will remain a Twin for at least for one more season.The Twins notified the center fielder on Tuesday morning that they had picked up his $12 million option for the 2007 season, keeping him from becoming a free agent. "It's a happy day for my whole family that I'm able to come back for another season," Hunter said on Tuesday from his home in Prosper, Texas. Hunter's contract stipulated that the team had five days from the conclusion of the season to exercise the option. The five-time Gold Glove winner has made clear his preference to sign a multi-year deal, but he is happy to at least take this first step considering the quick pace at which it had to be completed. "That timeframe makes it almost impossible to get a deal done so I'm happy that they picked up the option and we can try for a long term deal this winter," Hunter said. "I want to be there for several years. I'd like to finish my career in Minnesota." Twins general manager Terry Ryan said that the club made the decision to pick up the option due to the short timespan but he hasn't ruled out that a longer contract could possibly be negotiated this winter. "I know it's a sensitive issue for a player especially with the stature of Torii," Ryan said of the one-year deal. "Someone like him wants security and to know where they are going to be. I've discussed it with him to some extent. This is the route we're going to take at this time and then we'll see what happens from there." Hunter, 31, batted .278 with a career-high 31 homers and 98 RBIs this past season despite spending two weeks on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his left foot. Hunter also was hampered throughout the season by the left ankle injury he suffered in July of 2005 at Fenway Park that caused him to miss the final two months of that season. Even though it had appeared that the Twins would pick up the center fielder's option, Hunter was cautious about the prospects of him returning to the club which he has played for his entire career. After the Twins' 8-3 loss to the A's in Game 3 of the Division Series this past Friday in Oakland, Hunter made a trip around the clubhouse to thank each of his teammates in case he wasn't back next season. Now that his return is guaranteed for at least next year, Hunter is trying to look even further into the future with the club. Hunter isn't sure exactly how long of a deal may be possible, but in his mind he would like one that at least allows him to be a part of something he thinks will be pretty special. "I'd just like to play in the new stadium at least the first season," Hunter said. "To see it, play in it and be a part of the hometown. However long it takes to see that, I would be happy."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.