The Most Important Offseason of Josh Hamilton’s Future
Tuesday, November 27th, 2012
Sam Evans (Baseball Writer):
Whether he deserves it or not, Josh Hamilton is one of the most controversial players in baseball. Pretty much everyone thinks that Hamilton is a good guy, but he has made some mistakes off the field that lead to public questioning. With Hamilton hitting free agency this winter, his new contract will show how much interested teams read into his problems. Speaking of interested teams, are the Seattle Mariners a legitimate landing spot for Hamilton? If not, then who?
Josh Hamilton’s issues with drugs, alcohol, and tobacco have been under the spotlight his whole career. However, that’s what happens when a #1 pick gets suspended for drugs and has multiple problems in his personal life. However, the thing that the media tends to overlook (I’d be shocked if front offices did) is Hamilton’s lengthy injury history. If Hamilton doesn’t get the contract he wants this offseason, it will likely because he is often-injured not because of his previous drug and alcohol issues.
Josh Hamilton had had a litany of personal problems in the last 18 months, stemming all the way back to Shannon Stone’s death in 2011. Then this year, he decide to quit tobacco chew and was pestered by the media so much about it after a couple of months of slumping. There may have even been a direct correlation with the timing and all as studies have shown withdrawals can mean extreme mood swings, however it was also blown up another notch by outside influences. Then Nolan Ryan came out after the season and questioned the outfielder’s decision to quit tobacco as well. If you don’t think all of these factors have contributed for Hamilton’s yearning for a fresh a start, you would probably be wrong. He really needs to try his luck with a new city. We also need to remember that he was in a bar drinking before he reached out to people to rescue him in that time frame. At least he is aware of his faults and had worked tirelessly to have them not interfere with his play on the field. When he has fallen, he hasn’t repeated the act consecutively
Teams need to overlook most of Hamilton’s issues. Sure, Hamilton had a drug and alcohol addiction in his past. Twenty-two million Americans have as well. Hamilton has proven that he is a changed person and that should be enough to convince teams to look past his previous issues. That’s not to say that it isn’t a factor that should be in consideration in any contract Hamilton receives, but it’s not as big of a deal as the media portrays it to be. Previous drug and alcohol problems will likely play a part in Hamilton’s contract, just like they do with every other normal American citizen.
There are a couple of teams that appear to be early favorites to sign Hamilton. Even though it is pretty much impossible to predict where he will land, baseball fans have already start to begin to narrow down the list of teams that will pursue Hamilton. In a recent column by ESPN’s Buster Olney, Olney listed a couple of teams his sources could see landing Hamilton. Let’s go through those five and find which ones are the most realistic.
Milwaukee Brewers- The Brewers have been searching for a middle of the order bat ever since they lost Prince Fielder. However, the Brewers are looking pretty tight in terms of their payroll, so they probably won’t have enough money to get Hamilton. The club sells out almost every game, so he would not help their business model.
Texas Rangers- The Rangers are not going to bring Hamilton back unless Hamilton decides he will accept less money to stay with his old team. It appears to be fairly likely that Josh Hamilton has played his final game in a Texas Rangers uniform.
Boston Red Sox- The Red Sox will have the money to go after Hamilton this offseason, but I’m not sure Hamilton would be inclined to sign in such a media-driven town. Nonetheless, baseball-wise this looks like a good fit for Hamilton. However it is not a smart business decision for the Red Sox, who will sell out Fenway Park whether or not they sign the talented outfielder.
Baltimore Orioles- The Orioles have been rumored to be interested in Hamilton but aren’t expected to make an aggressive offer to him. Baltimore could potentially see the biggest spike in attendance for the signing of this guy out of all suitors, but maybe the team can’t justify being saddled with that much financial responsibility without having a true ace pitcher to compete in the playoffs signed first.
Seattle Mariners- The Mariners might be a good fit for Hamilton because they moved their fences in, he would be a veteran leader on a young lineup, and Hamilton would be in an easier situation to escape the limelight every once in a while. Seattle isn’t going to be competitive for a couple of years, but Hamilton could help speed up the process and spark the flame under a dormant franchise. However, that’s not to say there aren’t reasons why the Mariners and Hamilton will never agree to a contract.
I’m not going to pretend like I know what Josh Hamilton is looking for in his next team. Maybe he wants to stay in the south, maybe he wants to go to the National League, and maybe he only wants to play for teams that are going to win their divisions. The Mariners might not be prepared to give such a large sum of money to Hamilton, or maybe they had their eyes on someone else in free agency. There are more reasons why Hamilton and the Mariners won’t agree than reasons why it will. If I were the Mariners, I would be giving this guy more of a look. With Ichiro Suzuki out of town, what is the draw to come to the game on nights when King Felix is not pitching? In a bolstered up AL West, with the Rangers, Angels and an upstart Athletics team, the Mariners would not only be signing Hamilton to help their ball club, they would be weakening a division rival in Texas.
The most recent news out of Hamilton is that he is looking for a seven-year, $175 million contract. For as much attention as the Jayson Werth contract awarded by the Nationals a few years back, what Hamilton’s asking for is about $50 million more expensive. It seems more realistic to think that if Hamilton got a seven-year deal, it would be more around $150 million.
If I were a major league team actively pursuing Josh Hamilton, I would offer a five-year, $105 million contract to the Hamilton group. You could even have certain performance incentives that could drive it up another 20 Million Dollars for the duration on MVP Voting or team success. This way, Hamilton would be satisfied because he would be one of the highest paid players in the game for half of a decade. However, compared to other contracts, this one is less risky and wouldn’t lock a team down for as much time, or suffer if he is not putting up big numbers due to injury or personal problems. This player can hit 4o HRs and drive in 110 RBI just by being in the lineup. The Mariners would be ecstatic even if they could make the playoffs for the first time in a decade, so to throw out his recent playoff numbers should not scare them off.
Point blank, when healthy, Josh Hamilton is one of the best players in baseball. This offseason, Josh Hamilton is going to get paid like one. Despite all of the warnings, one team is going to make a big commitment to a pretty special baseball player. Whether it’s the Mariners or someone else, the team that signs Josh Hamilton is going to realize very quickly why there is no reason to be scared off by Hamilton’s scarred past.
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***Today’s feature was prepared by Sam Evans, Baseball Writer. 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 Sam on Twitter. (@RJA206)***
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Posted on November 27, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged AL West, baseball, ichiro suzuki, josh hamilton, josh hamilton brewers, josh hamilton chewing tobacco, josh hamilton drugs and alcohol, josh hamilton mariners, josh hamilton orioles, josh hamilton red sox, josh hamilton sharon stone, mariners free agency, mlb, mlb superstar, nolan ryan, rangers, texas rangers. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.