Josh Hamilton—Free Agency Profile

All Star Game, Award Winners, Ballparks, CBA, Draft, Fantasy/Roto, Free Agents, Games, History, Hot Stove, Management, Media, MiLB, MVP, PEDs, Players, Playoffs, Stats, Trade Rumors

Name: Josh Hamilton

Position: Outfielder

Vital Statistics: Age—31 (32 on May 21st); Height—6’4”; Weight—240 lbs.; Bats—Left; Throws—Left

Career Transactions: Drafted in the 1st round (1st overall) by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 1999 amateur draft; drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the Rule 5 draft in December of 2006; purchased by the Cincinnati Reds in December of 2006; traded by the Cincinnati Reds to the Texas Rangers for RHP Edinson Volquez and LHP Danny Herrera.

Agent: Michael Moye

Might he return to the Rangers? Yes.

Teams that could use him, pay him, and might pursue him: Boston Red Sox; Baltimore Orioles; Chicago White Sox; Kansas City Royals; Texas Rangers; Seattle Mariners; Washington Nationals; Philadelphia Phillies; Atlanta Braves; Milwaukee Brewers; Chicago Cubs; San Francisco Giants; Los Angeles Dodgers.

Positives: Hamilton has the power to hit the ball out of any park at any time and is capable of hitting 10 home runs in a week. He is a former MVP, is a good defensive left fielder and can play a decent center field.

Negatives: He’s injury-prone. His concentration lapses amid negativity leading to off-field questions as to how he’ll cope with them. Hamilton’s substance abuse problems and known incidences of drinking since supposedly getting clean raise massive red flags. At age 32, his body has been abused for extended periods making it reasonable to wonder when his physical decline will begin and if it’s going to be earlier than it would be with other players.

What he wants: 7-years, $175 million

What he’ll get: 4-years, $95 million

Teams that might give it to him: Red Sox, Orioles, Rangers, Mariners, Nationals, Phillies, Dodgers

The Red Sox were said to have serious interest in Hamilton, but that was later played down. Unless they’re shut out on every other avenue, the Red Sox are not going to repeat the mistakes they made with players like Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and John Lackey who were not emotionally equipped to handle Boston and the intense pressure and expectations that come along with being a big name free agent signee. That said, with the Blue Jays improvement and a very tough division, they might panic.

The Orioles have the money and a hole in the middle of their lineup. It was at Camden Yards that Hamilton hit 4 homers in one game earlier this year and is a career .370 hitter there. Baltimore is sufficiently less-pressurized than New York, Boston, and Los Angeles that the temptations Hamilton has to face will be limited.

The Rangers and Hamilton have set their winter positions with the Rangers saying they won’t go past 3 years and Hamilton wanting 7. There’s room for negotiation and if they aren’t able to get a Justin Upton, a B.J. Upton, or to improve their offense in another manner, they and Hamilton might agree to re-up.

The Nationals have a ton of money and would be able to make room for Hamilton by moving Mike Morse to first base. The Phillies need an outfield bat desperately, but I would not put the sensitive Hamilton in Philadelphia. The Dodgers don’t have room for Hamilton, but with the money they’re spending and the willingness of GM Ned Colletti to do anything and everything, they can’t be discounted.

Would I sign Hamilton? Yes and no. I would not go over 4 years. If he’s so insistent on 5-7 years, I would give 4 guaranteed and want the option to nullify the contract immediately if he fails a drug test or is caught drinking.

The Players Association would never go for it and nor would Hamilton, so reality dictates that he would not sign with me.

Will the team that signs him regret it? If he signs a 3-4 year contract, no. If someone gives him 6-7 years at $150-175 million, they will absolutely regret it.

Prediction: Hamilton will either sign with the Orioles for 6-years or wind up back with the Rangers on a 4-year contract with a reachable incentive to get a 5th and 6th year and legal language giving the Rangers some recourse if he starts using/drinking again.


Rangers Won’t Offer Hamilton More Than 3 Years—In Other Words, Take A Hike

Award Winners, Ballparks, Fantasy/Roto, Free Agents, Games, History, Hot Stove, Management, Media, MVP, Players, Playoffs, Stats, Trade Rumors, World Series

The Rangers are saying all the politically correct things when it comes to the Josh Hamilton free agent negotiations. They halfheartedly make it sound as if they want him back, but they really don’t. Hamilton’s off-field issues were one thing, but his fragility on the field; profound disinterest for extended periods last season; and his age (32 in May), make him simply not worth the aggravation regardless of his immense skills.

With Hamilton having had nearly identical production at home and away this season, if it were a player without his history he would absolutely get the $175 million over 7-years he’s said to want. But those scary demons of drugs, alcohol, and emotionality that nearly demolished his career are constantly bubbling beneath the surface. Handing him a guaranteed check for even half of what he wants is walking the tightrope without a net. The Rangers, rebounding from back-to-back World Series losses and a 2012 late-season collapse that cost them the AL West and got them bounced from the playoffs after one game, may be looking to make substantial changes to the constitution of their club and clubhouse. The easiest and safest thing to do in the long and short term is to let Hamilton walk.

The team has shown little enthusiasm for preventing Hamilton’s foray into free agency and they’re content to let him go and see what the market offers with a perfunctory and “come back to us” dripping with the underlying implication that they don’t care whether he comes back to them with the offer or not. That, in and of itself, was a signal that they’re exploring other options, but now after Hamilton’s contract desires were leaked and the Rangers said they weren’t going past 3 years, the impasse is too great to meet in the middle.

What I would expect to happen is that the Rangers will move first while Hamilton is taking his free agent tour. Either they’ll make a trade for a Justin Upton to account for the lost offense at a corner outfield spot and use the saved money to keep Mike Napoli and sign an arm such as Zack Greinke, or they’ll sign a free agent center fielder along the lines of B.J. Upton or Shane Victorino.

Hamilton’s time with the Rangers is over in every way. It’s not official yet, but it will be soon.