The Dallas Cowboys fall from a self-entitled grace may be the only thing shielding attention from the baseball world in Texas this week. However, don't be fooled—stars and steers, aside—what Josh Hamilton decides to do this coming Friday is a very big deal; It will certainly mark the beginning of the free-agency frenzy in the MLB.
Following the Rangers meager effort, offering a $13.3 million qualifying deal to Hamilton a few days ago, the team (possibly led by Nolan Ryan) left the door as wide open as they could for their much-embattled slugger to test free agency.
The move made one thing clear: Regardless of the solid numbers Hamilton put up in 2012 (.285/43/128), the off-the-field issues or late-season collapse became too much for the font office brass.
It's something the Rangers know and seem to have accepted, including GM Jon Daniels (who made the qualifying offer.)
In a story released by the AP, Daniels said:
If Josh were to accept that — there should be no chance of that realistically if you're him, it's actually a cut of what he made. It doesn't preclude us from continuing to talk.
That's all very true, but it doesn't take an investigative genius to understand a PR statement in the face of separating parties—It's like mommy and daddy telling the kids the love is still there...right before they split.
So, is Josh Hamilton really gone from Texas? Absolutely—I would bet the entire stock of Texas-brand toast that he doesn't wait until Friday to make the divorce final, taking his talents to South Beach (or at least making an announcement like LeBron in the weeks ahead.)
Just remember, it's not that often teams can land a top power hitter—especially in the AL—because most teams are wise enough to know when to hold 'em...and when to fold 'em. That is, except for the Rangers and the front office brainchild that likes Advil "cause it's gentl'er on 'is stumuck."
The clock strikes zero on Friday for Hamilton, and count on more than one attempting to pick up Texas' mistake, landing a game-changing player—plus some baggage.