If last night was Josh Hamilton’s final game in a Rangers’ uniform, it ended pretty ugly.
After Hamilton dropped a fly ball during the final game of the regular season against the Athletics, he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and a double-play ground ball last night. He saw a total of eight pitches.
Fans directed their anger and frustration at Hamilton, who told Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas.com that this wasn’t how he envisioned his final game with Texas.
“You hate to have it happen possibly the last game ever here, but at the same time, it’s one of those things,” Hamilton said after Texas’ 5-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles in Friday night’s one-game American League wild-card round. “I gave it my all every time I went out there. Hopefully, (fans) appreciated it more than they didn’t. I think they do. It’s one of those things, hey, we didn’t get a win, but you can’t win them all.”
Hamilton, 31, is the marquee name in what figures to be a weak free agent class, so he should do quite well as he tries to find the biggest payday of his career. He said that while he will “absolutely” give the Rangers the chance to match any offer he receives on the open market, he will decide on his next destination based on guidance from God.
“With prayer, where God says so. With prayer, where God says so. And with prayer, where God says so. Period. He’s always led me to the right places.”
Hamilton insisted the boos didn’t bother him and said the negative reaction from fans will not impact his decision this winter, but his paraphrasing of Matthew 10:14 was pretty telling.
“If they don’t receive you in a town, shake the dust off your feet and move to the next.”
Hamilton has a .305/.363/.549 batting line over five seasons with the Rangers to go along with 142 home runs, 506 RBI and a .912 OPS. He finished second in the majors this season behind Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera with 43 home runs and 128 RBI.
In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler Austin–Greg Bird combo in 2017.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.
Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.
The Nationals are trying to go big this offseason, and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes that they are still in trade talks for White Sox’ left-hander Chris Sale and Pirates’ center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Both players figure to command a big return, as Sale delivered another Cy Young-worthy performance in 2016 and, despite a downturn in his production rate, McCutchen is still one of the more coveted sluggers in the National League.
In 2016, Sale led the league in complete games, with six, and turned in a 3.34 ERA and 5.2 fWAR in 226 2/3 innings. While teams have been sniffing around the White Sox’ ace since the trade deadline, the club is expected to maintain a high asking price — so high, said FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, that it may keep the left-hander in Chicago for the foreseeable future.
According to Heyman, four other teams are reportedly in the mix for Sale, including the Red Sox, Astros, Rangers, and Braves, though parts of Rosenthal’s tweet hinted that the Red Sox were maintaining their interest in hopes of striking a more affordable deal. Should the Nationals pursue a deal for Sale, it’s likely that they’d have to move shortstop/center fielder Trea Turner, which they appear reluctant to do.
McCutchen, meanwhile, is also drawing interest around the league after batting .256/.336/.430 with 24 home runs in 675 PA during 2016. He didn’t appear to lose much power in his eighth season with the Pirates, but took considerably fewer walks and struck out at a career-high clip.
The Nationals were said to be in the lead for McCutchen on Thursday, and there was some expectation that the club would wrap up a trade for the center fielder by the non-tender deadline on Friday. FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi pointed out that the Rangers were also talking to the Pirates, however, and no deal has come to fruition as of yet.