Now that the Rangers have locked up Ian Kinsler to a long-term deal a new contract for Josh Hamilton could be next on the agenda, or at least that’s the speculation after general manager Jon Daniels and owner Bob Simpson met with Hamilton’s agent yesterday.
Previous reports have suggested that Hamilton’s injury history and off-field issues have soured the Rangers on making a long-term commitment to the 30-year-old impending free agent, but the two sides are at least interested enough to have a meeting.
Hamilton told Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram that he wasn’t sure how the meeting went or what was discussed, but he’s recently taken some subtle shots at the team for trying to “get as much out of me as they can before they get rid of me.”
Wilson reports that the Rangers have changed their usual stance of not negotiating during the season as long as talks stay private, which is perhaps why Hamilton is saying he has no idea what went on during the meeting.
On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”
There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.
It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:
On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.
“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”
One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.
None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”