USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale cites sources inside the Texas Rangers organization saying that the club will offer a “lucritive” three year deal to free agent slugger Josh Hamilton, but will not go beyond that length.
Hamilton is believed to be seeking seven years and $175 million this Winter. Texas made a one-year qualifying offer to the free agent, which Hamilton will decline. That offer was simply a formality so the Rangers could obtain a draft pick in compensation once Hamilton signs with another team.
Given the chasm between the player and the organization, Hamilton leaving has never seemed so likely.
While most figure Hamilton will fall short of his goals in terms of guaranteed years on his next deal, he’s still veryt likely to get more than three years. Seattle and Baltimore seem heavily interested in obtaining the 2010 AL MVP and while neither would like to pay through the nose for his services, if Hamilton would settle for a five year deal near $100 million, that would probably be palatable for either club. Obviously, that scenario prices Hamilton out of Texas.
It could be that the market develops slowly for Hamilton, given the sizable contract demands and his checkered past. Publicly at least, GMs and front office executives have been expressing concern over Hamilton’s injury history and missed time.
It’s not dissimilar to what took place a year ago when then-free agent Prince Fielder had to wait until January to land his nine-year, $214 million contract with the Tigers. Until Detroit got involved, Fielder had to sit by and listen to people all around the league talk about his body type and how poorly that would project as he got older.
Eventually, Fielder got the deal he was looking for, though it looked for a long while like he might have to settle for a shorter contract. It just takes one owner to convince himself that Hamilton can be so productive in the first few years of the deal that he’ll make up for an overpay at the end of the contract. At age 31, however, Hamilton is already at the tail end of his prime years and four years older than Fielder was when he signed his deal in Detroit. The chances of getting seven years seems remote at best, but five years is likely to happen, be it from Seattle or Baltimore or somewhere else.
Regardless, the Rangers have already begun making contingency plans should Hamilton move on. According to Jon Heyman, only the Red Sox were involved in more discussions during the just-completed GM Meetings in Indian Wells, California.