A couple of days ago, I commented that there is no chance Josh Hamilton will wind up in Pittsburgh. Let me start off by saying that I still believe this to be the case. Quite frankly, I just can't see a scenario where everything lines up to the point where Pittsburgh is in the market for a top-tier guy like that and enough other teams have dropped out of the running that they can make the most appealing offer. I just don't see it. At the same time, I read a surprising comment just now that makes me pause for a second:
Asked this week if there was any chance of re-signing Hamilton, one club official said, "not even if he wants to play here for free next season."
What?!?! Are you kidding me? Josh Hamilton is 31 years old. He hit 43 home runs this year. He is a virtual lock for an OPS+ of at least 130. Maybe you don't want to give him a Pujolsian $250M deal, especially since the Angels might be regretting giving that much to the actual Albert Pujols. As talented as he is, there are legitimate reasons why you might not want Hamilton. There are always injury concerns with him. He seems to get dinged up every year and, no matter how talented you are, you can't help the team win from the DL. There is the off-field stuff. There is the questionable approach that seems to lead him to swing at every pitch thrown to him regardless of whether or not he can hit it...although he can hit almost anything. At the same time, Hamilton doesn't seem to have any chronic injuries that should only get worse as he ages. A positional shift (first base?) could help to ease the impact on his body. While not playing full seasons, he has made at least 538 plate appearances four of the last five years.
It's certainly possible that this "club official" is not somebody in a decision making position and the Rangers will indeed resign the slugger. It might be for a hometown discount and it might be $25M/year deal that pays Hamilton like a true superstar. Still, what if this really is the perfect storm for an elite free agent that it would take for a team like the Pirates to land a player like Hamilton. There are a lot of questions about him going forward, his current team might not want him at all. The Yanks, Dodgers Nats and Angels don't have a place for him. The Mets, Phillies, and Red Sox seem like the might shy away from big, risky contracts for a while.
Again, I do NOT think that this is going to happen. I don't see Hamilton winding up in Pittsburgh. If he's really affordable to a team like Pittsburgh, I'm sure there's at least one other team in a slightly better position who'd be willing to outspend us by enough to land Hamilton. In light of the Rangers apparent disinterest in bringing back Hamilton at ANY cost, though, I'm just curious how everybody here feels. Considering the risks that come with him, what would you offer a guy like Hamilton? Would you take the plunge and throw a $150-$200M deal at him thinking that you'd do whatever it takes to get a superstar in a year when the other big spenders probably won't go that high? A shorter deal that still pays him a lot; something like 4/$80M? Would you stay around the discount deal (2/$24M) that he just played out in Texas? Would you refuse to go more than year to year or would you stay away no matter what like the Rangers might be thinking? Hmmmm...