Hot Stove Heating Up, But Who Wants Josh Hamilton?
This year's baseball winter meetings concluded in Nashville last week in what seemed to be more of a senior citizen public library coupon exchange atmosphere than the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange. But, over the past few days, things have been heating up considerably. Zack Greinke is now a Los Angeles Dodger, to the tune of six years $147 million, James Shields is now on Kansas City, Michael Young is a Phillie, and a host of other names (Dickey, Youkilis, Ichiro) are being bandied about by multiple teams. But what about Josh Hamilton?
His late season slide aside, Josh Hamilton is easily the biggest offensive fish in the free agent pool. He and his agent were hoping to land a whopping seven-year deal for big, big bucks, but that ain't gonna happen. Despite Greinke's six-year pact, it seems the days of extra-long contracts are going the way of the Dodo. Even if Hamilton didn't have a history of substance abuse, it's doubtful that any team would be looking to ink him to anything more than four years, maybe five. With the hindsight of the Albert Pujols deal and the god-awful A-Rod monstrosity with the Yankees, GMs just aren't going to hamstring themselves like that anymore. That being said, Hamilton is a great talent and only 31. He could definitely be a difference maker for any number of teams. So who's it gonna be?
No matter what, you have got to believe that the Texas Rangers are not going to let Hamilton go without a fight. Like everyone else, they just don't want to overpay. They are taking a chance by thinking he won't mind them playing it this way and be open to any 11th hour offer. The Seattle Mariners (my Seattle Mariners) were rumored to be interested in signing him for three years in the neighborhood of $20-25 million per. For a team that can't score any runs and has very little pop, that sounds like a pretty reasonable investment. Doubt he'll sign for anything fewer than four years though, so long as someone else is offering him that. And, hold the phone, there are now reports that the Yankees and Red Sox are kicking the tires. But are they really? The Sox just spent the last part of the 2012 season dumping all of the horrible over-priced contracts they could. Are they really prepared to throw big bucks at another big name? The Yankees, meanwhile, are looking to cut payroll and have basically neutered GM Brian Cashman. The guy can't buy a coffee at Starbucks without checking with Randy Levine first. Maybe they're bluffing, maybe not.
As of now it looks like its between the Ms and Rangers. But, for whatever reasons, nothing's getting done. With Greinke out of the way, you get the feeling something might happen this week. It's not going to behoove Hamilton to wait too long as teams go looking elsewhere for more economical help. There's no such thing as a sure thing, but gambling on Hamilton, and maybe Hamilton gambling on a new team, might not be such a bad idea.