Jon Daniels, general manager of the Texas Rangers, doesn’t seem to a be a big fan of Josh Hamilton today. Less than an hour after news broke that the 2010 American League MVP would sign with Texas’ biggest rival, Daniels noted that his club wasn’t given a chance to match the offer.
Daniels took a relaxed approach to the pursuit of Hamilton this off-season. It was the Rangers position to allow Hamilton to explore the free agent market without making a significant offer too keep their slugger. It was assumed, perhaps even discussed, that Hamilton would circle back to Texas periodically and check in. Daniels says the team expected to have the chance to match any offers.
When Hamilton agreed with Los Angeles, however, Daniels didn’t get that call until it was already too late.
“It wasn’t like NFL restricted free agency where he was going to come to us with an offer sheet,” Daniels said. “I never thought [Moye] was going to tell us to the dollar what he had, but we fully expected to hear from [Hamilton] before he signed, not after.”
From Hamilton’s perspective, it’s hard to blame him for how this went down. His agent, Michael Moye, had been engaged in extension talks a year ago with the Rangers, but the ballclub shelved those late in the Winter. When the 2012 season ended, Hamilton got word that Texas would be waiting to hear from him, but rumors surfaced early on that Texas wouldn’t go beyond three years in an offer to their superstar.
Meanwhile, Hamilton sat in the shadows and watched as Texas made a run at Justin Upton, poured their resources into Zack Greinke, and discussed trades and signings they deemed more important than Hamilton.It’s not hard to see how he might have felt disrespected by the club he’s spent the past five years with.
Maybe it would have been different had Daniels an inkling that the Angels would be involved. Hamilton was being courted aggressively by the lowly Mariners, but Daniels likely didn’t take them seriously. Even with Hamilton, Seattle wouldn’t be in the same class as Texas. Milwaukee wasn’t talking about the same kind of deal Hamilton got from the Angels, neither was Boston or Philadelphia. Daniels was confident Hamilton would come crawling back and graciously accept the “generous” three year offer to stay in Texas.
Angels GM Jerry Dipoto and owner Arte Moreno had been prioritizing re-signing Greinke, but lost him to the other Los Angeles team. They were able to add a couple of starting pitchers with relatively low salaries and all of a sudden they realized they had all this money previously earmarked for Greinke that was burning a hole in their pocket.
The Angels obviously get significantly better with this move and the rival Rangers are left wondering what just happened.
A week ago, it looked like Texas would get Greinke and like they would get Upton. They missed on Greinke, were too stubborn to get Upton, and then missed on James Shields as well.
Now, they’ve missed on Hamilton.
Jon Daniels can cry about how he feels betrayed by Hamilton, but it was his over-confidence that resulted in the Rangers being the biggest loser of the off-season.