Rangers put Josh Hamilton contract talks on hold after relapse

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The Rangers and Josh Hamilton were expected to do their best to get an extension done this spring, but those plans have changed now following Hamilton’s night out at a Dallas-area bar earlier this week.

GM Jon Daniels and Hamilton’s agent, Michael Moye, confirmed the decision to put talks on hold to ESPN Dallas’ Tim MacMahon this afternoon. Hamilton concluded his news conference on Thursday by saying, “It would be nice if it was talking about a contract, but we’ll put that on the back burner for a while.”

Hamilton, the American League MVP in 2010, is entering the final year of a two-year, $24 million contract and will be eligible for free agency for the first time after the season. Any long-term deal with him is going to be a risk. Even if one wants to discount his history of drug and alcohol abuse, there’s still the matter of injuries: the 30-year-old Hamilton has averaged 118 games per season in his five years in the bigs and there’s a real possibility he’ll be even less durable in his 30s than he was in his 20s.

One wonders how Hamilton’s relapse could have affected the Rangers’ talks with Prince Fielder had it happened a couple of weeks earlier. Might the team have been more willing to meet Fielder’s asking price and potentially let Hamilton walk at season’s end had they known what was coming? That’s not a question Daniels or Nolan Ryan figures to answer out loud anytime soon, but they’ve surely had the subject on their minds.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.