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Josh Hamilton will come cheaper now than over the winter

Mar 19, 2012, 6:45 PM EDT

Josh Hamilton AP

That was the 2010 American League MVP’s message to the Rangers on Monday.

“Free agency is free agency,” Josh Hamilton told ESPN’s Jim Bowden on SiriusXM radio. “If they sign me now, it’d probably cost less. If they sign me there (free agency), it’d cost more. So we’ll see.

“Obviously, I told the Rangers that they get first shot, and I mean that. I have loyalty to the Rangers. They’ve been good to me and my family, and it’s been a good relationship.”

It was labeled a mutual decision when the Rangers and Hamilton halted contract extension talks following the outfielder’s alcohol relapse last month, but from the sound of things, it was definitely more the Rangers’ call than Hamilton’s.

Hamilton is one of the game’s most talented players, but he’s entering his age-31 season and he’s played 150 games just once in his career. Even if one wants to discount his past substance abuse problems, he’s still a risk because of his injury history. It’s not all that often that players become more durable in their 30s.

It’s unclear exactly what Hamilton is looking for to forgo free agency next winter. He’s making $13.75 million this year as part of a two-year, $24 million contract. The Rangers might be amenable to spending $16 million-$18 million per year on him for the next three or four seasons. Going any longer than that would simply be too risky.

  1. Ben - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    He should probably try to spend a full season on the field before getting too sure of huge bucks.

    • pjthornton - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:00 PM

      I think the Rangers should just wait until later this season after Hamilton’s next “relapse”…then he’ll come REALLY cheap.

  2. randygnyc - Mar 19, 2012 at 7:10 PM

    He should pass 90 days of sobriety first. Then try to make it through 2012 without injury. Then the Rangers might talk contract.

    • deadeyedesign23 - Mar 19, 2012 at 7:57 PM

      He can also do neither of those things and plenty of teams will still talk contract. As much as I understand the trepidation about is injury potential, the market will set his price now not his ability to stay sober for 90 days. It’s not like the other teams are unaware.

      • Ben - Mar 19, 2012 at 8:05 PM

        You don’t make sense. The market will price him according to those factors. If he’s not sober he’s not a functional human being, much less ballplayer.

      • paperlions - Mar 19, 2012 at 9:19 PM

        There are plenty of alcoholics in MLB that still get good contract…the Tigers “new” 3B, for example.

        Will he get $100M for 5 years? Of course not (well, probably not…this is MLB owners we are talking about), but plenty of teams will have no problem offering Hamilton a high AAV short-term deal.

      • Ben - Mar 19, 2012 at 9:43 PM

        Miguel Cabrera has a drinking problem, but his problems pale in comparison to Josh Hamilton. He’s also spent fewer days on the DL in his career than Hamilton averages in a year.

      • paperlions - Mar 19, 2012 at 10:25 PM

        Miguel Cabrera thinks he doesn’t have a problem, which is a far bigger problem than Hamilton’s current status.

  3. jason1214 - Mar 19, 2012 at 8:22 PM

    Yeah Josh, it COULDN’T possibly be that you took a big PR hit with your latest relapse huh?
    Buyer beware this guys best years are behind him.

  4. randygnyc - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:24 PM

    Josh’s problems arent limited to alcohol. In fact, it’s pretty safe to assume that Josh has in the past (hopefully) surrounded himself with substances that could have gotten him 10 to 15 year “contracts.”

  5. vincentbojackson - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:37 PM

    Josh is a really loyal guy. That’s why he bolted the Reds after they resurrected his career when nobody else would touch him.

    • paperlions - Mar 20, 2012 at 8:16 AM

      By Bolted, I assume you mean was traded away by the Reds.

      Way to give yourself a thumbsup though, nice touch.

    • sparkycon - Mar 20, 2012 at 11:37 AM

      He traded himself to the Rangers one night while the Reds GM was asleep…part of the genius of Josh Hamilton …

  6. jbones77 - Mar 20, 2012 at 12:02 AM

    He was traded, genius.

  7. artisan3m - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:18 AM

    Hamilton hasn’t lost any skills, the Rangers like him, and he sells tickets. I’d much rather have him on my roster than to face him on someone else’s. Most likely any contract will include an escape clause based on his conduct pertaining to substance abuse, certainly after this most recent incident. He’d a fool not to expect it and the team would be a fool not to require it.

  8. henryd3rd - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:32 AM

    All Hamilton needs is one owner to step up and he gets his money.

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