The Rangers max offer to Josh Hamilton will be three years

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In other words, the Rangers are really not that interested in signing Josh Hamilton. Bob Nightengale reports:

The Texas Rangers don’t plan to offer prized free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton more than a three-year contract, according to a high-ranking team official, which likely will lead to the Rangers severing ties with the 2010 American League MVP.

Nightengale says that negotiations have not even begun.  If Rangers people are leaking that, then, you know they have no interest in making Hamilton a serious offer.

I don’t think Hamilton will get one of those 6-7 year deals, let alone that $175 million he reportedly wants. Or at least he shouldn’t. But you have to figure there are a lot of teams who would go four or five. Or some kind of deal with x years guaranteed and a bunch of options/incentives to account for the uncertainty about his health and age and stuff.

But three years? Can’t really see it.

Mariners sign Ichiro to a minor league deal

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USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Mariners will sign Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league deal. If he makes the roster he’ll make $750,000. At least until he retires.

I say that because it seems quite clear that the idea here, telegraphed since last season, is to activate Ichiro for the Mariners’ series against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo on March 20-21 and for hoopla surrounding it all. The Mariners and A’s will have a 28-man roster for that series, which is officially part of the regular season schedule, but it will be pared back down to 25 once games begin in the United States.

Suzuki, 45, hit .205/.255/.205 in 47 plate appearances through May 2 last season, at which point he agreed to be deactivated to join the Mariners’ front office. Many assumed Ichiro would announce his retirement later that season or during the offseason, but the Japan Series soon crystalized as an obvious way for him to offer his final farewell to both his American and his Japanese fans.

Unless of course he goes 6-10 with three doubles in that series, at which point everyone will be tempted to keep him on the roster past Japan. Which, given the Mariners’ rebuild and likely poor performance this coming season, wouldn’t exactly be hurting anyone, would it?