Hunter's still a Twin

class=img_thumbleft>Twins General Manager Terry Ryan

announced today

that the team has picked up the $12 million option on Torii Hunter's contract. That means the would-be free-agent center fielder, whose name has been thrown around in trade rumors all year long, will remain a Twin for at least one more season. Negotiations to continue into the off-season re: a long-term contract.

This is the first move of an off-season that's bound to be a major headache for Ryan, who has eight players up for salary arbitration, three of whom (Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Michael Cuddyer) make up the heart of the Twins' lineup and are coming off the kinds of career years that make for very lucrative salary raises. Which means that the Hunter re-signing isn't necessarily a bad idea (he, too, had an outstanding year, especially the second half), but if it's going to make long-term contracts for Mauer and Morneau more difficult to negotiate, it marks the first misstep of a dishearteningly early off-season. That said, the Twins are going to rock next year. That much we do know.

What do you think? Hunter used to be the face of the organization, and he's undoubtedly a fan favorite, but he's lost his defensive brilliance and will now make as much money as Johan Santana. Was bringing him back the right move?

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