- David Schoenfield, SweetSpot blogger
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I still wonder if Fielder will end up with the Rangers.
OK, maybe unlikely, especially considering the big money the Rangers will likely shell out to sign Yu Darvish. But here's my question: Would the Rangers be better off signing Fielder to a long-term deal or outfielder Josh Hamilton, who is eligible for free agency after the 2012 season?
The risks of signing Hamilton:
Turns 31 in May. Fielder turns 28 the same month.
Hamilton has been injury-prone, missing 73 games in 2009, 29 in 2010, 41 in 2011. Fielder has missed 13 games his entire career.
Hamilton has been inconsistent. His OPS totals since joining the Rangers: .901, .741, 1.044, .882.
Hamilton doesn't get on base as much Fielder: .363 OBP over the past three seasons compared to Fielder's .409 mark over that span.
Hamilton's batting numbers are a little inflated thanks to his home park: He's hit .323/.377/.596 in Texas versus .295/.355/.486 on the road in his career. Fielder has hit .286/.399/.566 at home in his career versus .279/.381/.515.
I'm not suggesting Fielder is the better player; in fact, even with his inconsistent year-to-year numbers, Hamilton's WAR over the past four seasons is 17.5 and Fielder's 16.1. Fielder provides the big bat but nothing else. Hamilton is a good all-around player. Of course, it's not necessarily a one-or-the-other situation. But Fielder is the less risky signing.
Hamilton would like to stay in Dallas, but he indicated to ESPNDallas in December that he still expects a fair offer from the Rangers. "Obviously I love it here," he said. "It always comes down to being treated fairly. I've been this way since I signed out of high school. Treat me fair and don't come in with no ridiculously low stuff."
What kind of offers would Hamilton receive on the market? Jayson Werth was the same age as Hamilton will be when he hits free agency and received $126 million. Even if that's a bit extreme, Hamilton has to be looking at something close to $100 million. Obviously, Hamilton means a lot to the franchise as one of its cornerstone players and it's more difficult to find a good outfielder than a good first baseman.
So, what do you think: Fielder or Hamilton?