Now that Prince Fielder is officially a member of the Detroit Tigers, many have assumed that the Rangers will step up their efforts to sign Josh Hamilton to a contract extension.
While contract talks are expected to continue leading into spring training, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said during an appearance yesterday on ESPN 103.3 in Dallas (via Jon Machota of FOX Sports Southwest) that he never viewed things as an either-or situation in regard to Fielder and Hamilton.
“I look at it like we would like to get a deal with Josh — Prince or no Prince,” Daniels said. “We would like to keep Josh here for an extended period of time. It’s got to be a deal that works for both sides. He’s got kind of a unique set of circumstances because of how his career has played out, and he’s going to reach free agency at a different age than where Prince will or even a guy like Elvis [Andrus] will because he got to the big leagues so young.
“Josh, I think rightfully so, is going to look at this as maybe the one time he really hits free agency and how does he factor that in with his family and the different opportunities that he has. We’re talking to them about this, the Rangers organization as a group. We love Josh. We love what he’s about, and we want to keep him here, and we’re going to continue talking to him and hopefully we’ll figure something out.”
These are some refreshing comments by Daniels. We’re so used to hearing canned responses from team officials about how they’d love to keep a player around for a long time without getting into any of the complications involved. Daniels seems to get that fans are much smarter than that, especially in regard to Hamilton’s unique situation.
Setting aside his immense popularity, Hamilton turns 31 years old in May and hasn’t played more than 133 games in a season since 2008. That makes this negotiation pretty tricky. Would a three- or four-year deal (perhaps with a vesting option based on games played) work for the Rangers? Maybe. But they should absolutely draw a line in the sand. And nobody should blame Hamilton if he turns them down and bolts for a big payday this winter. Given his durability issues, it will likely be the only long-term deal of his major-league career.