Monday, August 31, 2009

Dirtbags bring back Hunter

Slugger to play backup role with team

The Fargo Dirtbags were set to cut ties with slugging catcher/first baseman Arnold Hunter after last season. Hunter was to become a Type A free agent and the plan from Fargo's standpoint was to let him go, collect compensation picks from the team that signs him, and hope that guys like 30-year-old rookie Ricardo Martinez could at least be competent in his absence. But things didn't quite work out that way.

Seeking a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract, Hunter remained unsigned throughout the offseason and into the regular season. Fargo thought for sure once Hunter's demands dropped below a one-year, $1 million deal that a team would scoop him up, but it never happened. Teams were just unwilling to part with a draft pick for a 31-year-old with a 49 health rating and a 62 durability rating. So the Dirtbags, knowing a bargain when they see one, decided to re-sign Hunter to a one year contract worth just under $731,000.

Martinez has been far more than the Dirtbags could have ever hoped for and isn't likely to lose much playing time to Hunter anytime soon. Hunter looks like he'll only face left-handed pitchers and may likely only see those at bats as a starter during inter-league games as a DH. He'll probably get a few at bats at catcher as well, as the Dirtbags grow weary of Wiki Mateo's lack of a bat, but Juan Flores is the starter there and will take all of the at bats his shaky durability allows.

The signing comes down to the fact that the Fargo didn't want to lose Hunter for nothing. With the amateur draft in less than a week, the Dirtbags would have lost Hunter with no compensation should a team have signed him after the draft, which was highly likely to happen. Now, Fargo can claim one of the best benches in the National League and a monster bat that could very well make a difference down the stretch.

Arnold Hunter
Age: 31B/T: R/R
Born: Metamora, IL
Position(s): C/1B
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