Will Rangers re-sign Hamilton?
Hamilton is irreplaceable
Nearly every player in the big leagues can be replaced. Go ahead and try to replace Josh Hamilton.
And that's why he'll be with the Texas Rangers long-term.
We all know you can't pay everybody. Although there's no salary cap in Major League Baseball, every team operates under a budget -- even the New York Yankees.
But if Elvis Andrus, who's represented by Scott Boras, decides he wants to leave when his deal is done, the Rangers would have uber-prospect Jurickson Profar in place to play shortstop.
If signing Hamilton costs the Rangers Nelson Cruz down the road, the Rangers believe they could find another corner outfielder. They've already discussed moving second baseman Ian Kinsler to the outfield some day.
Get the point?
You can't replace one of the top three everyday players in baseball, a five-tool player who can help win a game even on days when his bat is silent. We see him do it all the time.
Try to remember all of the sliding, diving and nifty plays Hamilton has made in the outfield this season. Think about the times you've seen him throw out a runner trying to swipe an extra bag.
Then there's the matter of trying to replace his left-handed bat -- every championship-caliber team needs one -- in the middle of the Rangers' lineup in a ballpark built for just such a player.
And when he's swinging a hot bat, Hamilton can carry a team for a month. Or two. Perhaps even longer.
We're seeing it right now.
If this were the only time we'd seen it, then we could debate signing him to a five- or six-year deal worth considerably more than $100 million.
But in 2008, he had 100 RBIs in 99 games. In 2010, he hit nearly .400 for three months and won the American League MVP, despite missing much of the final month with a rib injury after crashing into a wall.
This is just yet another amazing example of his profound talent.
Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels are smart men. They know Hamilton is irreplaceable.
They'll find a way to get it done.
Someone will pry him away
The guy just came off one of the most ridiculous offensive weeks in the history of the game. Hamilton's nine home runs, including four last Tuesday night in Baltimore, along with 18 RBIs and a .467 batting average serve as more proof that he's one of the top hitters in the game.
Hamilton's value is soaring. And with every homer, winning RBI or monster performance, talk immediately shifts to his contract.
The Rangers have an edge here. Hamilton likes it in Texas. His family enjoys it. He's comfortable here, and he has a solid support system. But that's not enough to get a deal done. He's also going to be 31 years old next week, making this next contract an important one for him.
But negotiating a deal for Hamilton isn't easy. He's been healthy just one full season of his career, in 2008. How many years are you willing to guarantee? Is there a way to get creative and maybe do a vesting option or two based on games played?
If Hamilton stays healthy this year, he's going to put up MVP numbers. That means he could enter free agency having won the award in two of the last three seasons. At this point, what's the motivation for Hamilton to sign with Texas? Wouldn't he at least like to see what the market might bring if he can stay healthy?
It only takes one team to step up and present Hamilton with an offer that'd be impossible to refuse. With his injury history, I can't see a nine- or 10-year deal for him like the Tigers handed Prince Fielder or the Angels gave Albert Pujols.
Is seven years out of the question? Maybe. But did you ever think Fielder would get a nine-year deal?
Still, the Rangers' advantage is that they are essentially in an exclusive negotiating window. And Hamilton has said that, no matter what happens during the season, he's going to sit down with the Rangers first and see if there's any way to stay.
Even knowing that, it's difficult to see him back in Texas. It only takes one team to pry him away. And there's going to be a bunch of them with Hamilton's agent on speed dial.
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