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Friday, November 02, 2007

Free agent Hunter halts talks with Twins

Torii Hunter filed for free agency and told the Twins he didn't want to negotiate with them prior to hitting the open market.

By Joe Christensen, Star Tribune
Last update: October 29, 2007 – 9:35 PM

Torii Hunter filed for free agency Monday, saying he has halted negotiations with the Twins.

Teams have an exclusive 15-day negotiating period with pending free agents before the market officially opens Nov. 13, but Hunter said, "I don't think there's going to be any negotiations."

Asked which side had halted the talks, Hunter said, "I think it was more me telling them."

This doesn't mean that the All-Star center fielder is leaving for sure, but it does suggest he will entertain other offers before resuming talks with the Twins.

With the World Series ending Sunday, Monday was the first day eligible major leaguers could file for free agency, and Hunter and Twins pitcher Carlos Silva were among the 57 players who wasted no time.

During this 15-day window, other teams can discuss potential contract lengths, but they are not supposed to discuss financial terms.

"We want to see what may or may not be some of Torii's options, and the filing is just the start of the process," said Larry Reynolds, Hunter's agent.

Hunter, 32, hit .287 with 28 homers and 107 RBI this year and was selected to his second All-Star Game. He rejected a three-year, $45 million offer from the Twins in late August, and neither side has come forward with a new proposal. Hunter said there have been very few discussions since the season ended.

Now, other teams can talk to Hunter without being penalized for tampering.

He did not rule out a return to the Twins.

"They might want to see what other teams offer and then get back to me," he said.

Twins General Manager Bill Smith said the early free-agent filings came as no surprise.

"That's a formality," Smith said. "They're going to talk to other teams. They've earned that right. ... If I was them, I'd want to get out there and get it filed."

Silva, 28, filed on the same day he fired longtime agent Peter Greenberg, choosing Barry Praver and Scott Shapiro as his new representation.

Greenberg also represents Twins pitcher Johan Santana. Praver represents former Twins pitcher Sidney Ponson, and Shapiro was Carl Pavano's agent when Pavano signed a four-year deal worth almost $40 million with the New York Yankees in December 2004.

Some other notable names who filed included Barry Bonds, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Alex Rodriguez, Kerry Wood and former Twins players Luis Castillo, Shannon Stewart, Doug Mientkiewicz and Corey Koskie.

Nathan returns

As expected, the Twins said they have picked up closer Joe Nathan's option for 2008.

Nathan will make $6 million after notching 37 saves last season and posting a 1.88 ERA.

"I wish every decision we had to make was as easy as this one," Smith said.

Nathan was aggressive in pursuing a contract extension last offseason, but now that he's one year away from free agency, the righthander will leave it up to the Twins.

"Bill and my agent had discussions, but as far as numbers, they didn't get into that," Nathan said. "We told them in the spring that after the season it was going to be even harder."

Nathan, 32, noted that Hunter might have been more tempted to take the Twins offer had they presented it in spring training, instead of waiting until August.

"I'm definitely not judging what they're doing because obviously they've done some pretty good things there," Nathan said.

As for this winter, Nathan said, "I'm hoping that they can fill some holes and see what they do with Torii and Carlos."


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