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February 10, 2011

BP Unfiltered

Hamilton Re-Ups with Texas

by R.J. Anderson

According to Jon Heyman, the Rangers and Josh Hamilton have agreed on a two-year deal worth $24 million in order to avoid arbitration.

Although the negative externalities of a hearing seem overstated—as ultimately the re-signing of Hamilton will be about his health, performance, and the money on the table rather than whether the Rangers make note of the skeletons in his closet—avoiding the process entirely is a nice plus. The deal itself seems like a win-win, as Hamilton filed for $12 million while the Rangers countered at just less than $9 million. On the basis of annual average value, Hamilton will indeed make his $12 million this season, but the actual allocation will probably differ in a manner which can be presented as a raise now (from $3.25 million in 2010) and then (from his 2011 salary).

The two sides now have the benefit of locked-in salaries through the rest of Hamilton’s arbitration eligibility, but the defending American League Most Valuable Player still has a date with free agency looming large after the 2012 season. By then, Hamilton will be a 31-year-old (who turns 32 in May of 2013) with a history of substance abuse and injuries. The Rangers do not seem to lack dollars, so it may come down to just how they weigh the variables involved.

When Hamilton has played, he’s performed well—minus the 2009 season—as his career line with the Rangers is .315/.372/.543, but playing time has proven irregular thanks to numerous injuries. Only once has Hamilton appeared in more than 150 games (2008) and even last season he managed to miss most of September (playing just twice). Now, the Rangers held an eight-game lead in the division with fewer than 30 games to play, and precaution meant more than added production at that point, but his lacking health becomes more of a concern as Hamilton approaches the wrong side of 30. One can understand why the Rangers could prove gun shy in handing him a big deal now while also sympathizing with Hamilton, as this would be his first (and possibly last) voyage into the open market.

For now, Hamilton is a member of the Rangers with a freshly-inked contract in hand.

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

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