Now more then ever, Josh Hamilton’s return to the Texas Rangers seems slim to none.
According to an ESPN report, the maximum length the Texas Rangers will give the best free-agent on the market, is three years. Hamilton’s original asking price this offseason is a seven-year contract worth $175 million.
Clearly he will not be getting that from the Rangers. In my post about free agency, I predicted Hamilton to re-sign with the Rangers. I did not see the Rangers handing him out that much money, but I saw a five-year contract being worked out between the two.
Since Hamilton’s return to Texas is most likely out the door, let’s look at who could be the new front-runners.
The Baltimore Orioles, Milwaukee Brewers and Seattle Mariners could be big players for Hamilton.
Baltimore was a big surprise team in 2012 and they have a bright future in the AL East. Buck Showalter has done a great job with the Orioles so far and Baltimore wants to give him more weapons.
Camden Yards can be a launching pad for Hamilton in Baltimore and let’s not forget he did hit four home runs in one game there this year. Just because he mashed four bombs in one game in Baltimore will not make Hamilton an Oriole, but hey it certainly does not hurt.
Baltimore could have a dangerous middle of the order with a healthy Nick Markakis, Hamilton and Adam Jones. The outfield would be solid defensively too.
If Hamilton ends up in the National League, he can certainly be a Milwaukee Brewer.
Hamilton’s past drug and alcohol issues put him in the hands of Jerry Narron to be a personal helper to Hamilton. Narron is now the hitting coach for the Milwaukee Brewers and a reunion with him could be very intriguing to Hamilton.
The Brewers need protection for Ryan Braun with the departure of Prince Fielder. The middle of the order could consist of: Braun, Hamilton and Aramis Ramirez. Not bad at all, but would Milwaukee sign Hamilton to play centerfield or right long-term?
One team that may throw a ton of money Hamilton’s way is the Seattle Mariners.
The Mariners need offense badly and they have the money to make Hamilton happy. When Kyle Seager is leading your team with 20 home runs, clearly you have a need for offense.
Seattle is loaded with young pitching talent and if they can go after Hamilton and another bat this offseason, they can be a dark-horse team in the AL West. With the fences being moved in at Safeco Field, hitters could be more inclined to sign with the Mariners.
Right now, I see the Orioles and Mariners as favorites to land Hamilton. Both should strongly consider going hard after the former MVP.
This season, the Orioles showed they can be a serious threat in the AL East and will be for a long time with young talent such as, Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy.
The AL West proved to be up for grabs this season with the surprise of the Oakland A’s and with young pitching and an addition of Hamilton, Seattle could be next year’s Oakland.
Hold tight with the free agency circus of Josh Hamilton as the story has just begun and will be one to watch.
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