Josh Hamilton: Should the Rangers Extend Their Star Slugger Immediately?

Friday August 24th, 2012

Bernie Olshansky:  In the present time, Josh Hamilton is the Texas Rangers’ best player. One of the best in baseball baseball in fact. Hamilton has enjoyed one of the finest seasons of his career thus far, hitting .285 with 34 homers and 102 RBIs. He had a hot stretch at one point that included four home runs in a single game. Players like Hamilton don’t come around often, so if the Rangers are smart, they will extend his contract ASAP.

With Hamilton in the lineup, the Rangers have played in two World Series. He won the 2010 MVP award when the Rangers lost to the Giants in the Fall Classic in five games. If the Rangers wait until Hamilton hits free agency this offseason, they will have to compete with other teams and likely pay more than they would if they offered Hamilton right now. They could also risk losing him to the division rival Angels (this is highly doubtful given the large contracts of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson and a future contract of Mike Trout). This would be the worst possible scenario with the Angels already looking like a World Series-caliber team.

If the Rangers decide to extend Hamilton now, they will still have to pay a pretty penny. This will not be a Pujols or Fielder-type contract though. As we all know, Hamilton has had his share of issues. His past addiction to drugs will definitely be a factor in contract negotiations, not to mention his recent relapses with alcohol. As sad as it is, these issues will affect the amount of money he could be paid. Beside these factors, Hamilton is also considered injury-prone. He dealt with a sports hernia during the past World Series, and was also injured during last season after a slide into home.

Even with all these issues, Hamilton has tremendous upside. He was a first-round pick out of high school and was traded to the Rangers after playing part of one season for the Reds. In return for Hamilton, the Rangers gave up Edinson Volquez—a top prospect at the time. Hamilton has been beyond great for Texas. He has been an All-Star in all five years he has played there, and has only hit below .280 in one season (2009 when he only played in 89 games and hit .268).

He is already 31 years old, so the Rangers would most likely be extending him for the rest of his career. In my opinion, a seven-year deal is reasonable. For seven years, I would expect the Rangers to pay Hamilton somewhere in the neighborhood of $150-$175 million. This could jeopardize the signing of future star Jurickson Profar, so a trade of Elvis Andrus could be possible. The Rangers might need to do something to free up enough money to sign Hamilton and Profar. Yu Darvish is signed for $56 million over six years, so trading him after another year or two could be considered but unlikely.

Waiting for Josh Hamilton to hit free agency could be a big mistake. Many things could happen, including him finding a better situation. The Miami Marlins come to mind. They just got rid of Hanley Ramirez’s enormous contract, so if they truly are trying to win in the present, they might go after Hamilton. This would provide the boost the Marlins need to compete in the NL East. Imagine a lineup that had Hamilton and Giancarlo Stanton as the 3-4 hitters. Marlins Park isn’t exactly the hitters’ paradise that The Ballpark in Arlington is, but with Hamilton’s power, it could be explosive.

Of course the Yankees will be part of the discussion, adding Hamilton to the lineup that already consists of Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez. The only issue the Yankees would have is re-signing Cano and Granderson. Both have an option for 2013, so they can become free agents in 2014. The Yankees most likely will not let Cano or Granderson walk, so Hamilton could be unlikely. The Nationals would have been an option if they hadn’t gone overboard in signing Jayson Werth. The Giants could be a possibility with Melky Cabrera likely ending up elsewhere. Tim Lincecum is the only pressing contract that will need extending in the near future, but he doesn’t seem like he will pull in that much money with the way his 2012 campaign is going. But then again, the Giants may let him walk by way of trade or at the end of next season as a free agent.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Josh Hamilton. He seems to be pulling the “I don’t want to discuss an extension until after the season for fear of distraction,” card. But I think the Rangers will try anyways. Josh Hamilton hitting free agency could prove to be a disaster for the Rangers, but  the gut says that he will remain in Texas.

(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)

***Today’s feature was prepared by Bernie Olshansky, Baseball Writer & Facebook Administrator.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Bernie on Twitter (@BernieOlshansky)***

 

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About bernieolshansky

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ve experienced some exciting times with the local baseball teams—the Giants winning the World Series being the most memorable highlight. Some of my favorite players include Felix Hernandez, Tim Lincecum, and Cliff Lee among others. I played baseball up through my freshman year of high school and transitioned into being a full time fan. I regularly attend major and minor league games when I have free time. I enjoy working at a baseball store. I’m in my senior year of high school and hope to major in Journalism or Sports Administration in college. Follow Bernie on Twitter (@BernieOlshansky).

Posted on August 24, 2012, in MLB Player Profiles, MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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