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December 4, 2012
Out of Left Field
Josh Hamilton and Talking
Josh Hamilton is one of the big storylines of the offseason. Where will he end up? Will he sign with [team x]? Maybe! Maybe not! Possibly maybe not! That’s about the best we can say on the matter. Maybe someone knows, possibly, but probably not.
I just used the words “maybe” and “possibly” a total of six times. That sums things up. We know why. Hamilton’s is one of the oddest free agent cases in recent memory. A supremely talented yet supremely flawed player, he’s old but not that old, appears excellent defensively but he’s possibly poor at defense. Then there’s the near unprecedented (for free agent baseball players) matter of his personal problems. It adds up to a player who could end up just about anywhere.
Oh, and there’s the price. BP’s own John Perrotto reported Hamilton is seeking a seven-year, $175 million contract. That would be the ninth-biggest ever, slotting in between Mark Teixeira’s $180 million deal with the Yankees and C.C. Sabathia’s $161 million deal with the Padres. That number is going to limit the pool of suitors*.
*The whole idea of using dating terms to describe free agents and their prospective teams reached its zenith yesterday when the Orioles were described as being “in hard” on Adam LaRoche. Presumably that is better than being “in deep” on Adam LaRoche, which would possibly upset him and his wife and therefore inhibit a team’s ability to sign him. Also it’s gross.Though only slightly grosser than “in deep.” That’s gross too.
According to MLB Trade Rumors, eight teams have been connected to Josh Hamilton over the past month. All of them have been mentioned more than once. So let’s take a look at those and a few other possibilities and put some arbitrary-ish numbers on it, shall we? No? Well I’m doing it anyway.
The Unfit: The Rangers know Hamilton’s personal demons better than any team. So they are in better position than any team to assess how those demons might affect him over the course of his next contract. Which might make them, depending on the severity of those demons and Hamilton’s ability to control them, more likely to retain him or less likely to retain him.
The Odds: 5/2
Boston Red Sox
The Unfit: Is Boston really the best place for Hamilton? Also the Red Sox just spent an enormous amount of energy ridding themselves of long-term deals. It seems unlikely they’d want to jump back into the deep end of that pool hand-in-hand with the uncertainty that is Josh Hamilton.
The Odds: 5/1
The Unfit: Philadelphia has $136 million committed to 11 players next season. They have four players making $20 million or more. That’s called not a fit.
The Odds: 20/1
The Unfit: The Mariners might not be ready to win now, so Hamilton’s best years might be wasted on a last-place team. For $150 million I’m guessing Hamilton could overlook this. The Mariners might have more difficulty with that concept.
The Odds: 18/1
The Unfit: Milwaukee already has a starting outfield and it’s tough to see where Hamilton fits in. Maybe they could trade Norichika Aoki, but between the cost in treasure and the lack of a fit on the roster (Milwaukee can’t stash him at DH), this is a tough one to see.
The Odds: 50/1
The Unfit: From the Orioles perspective there isn’t really a reason other than length of contract and cost. From Hamilton’s perspective, there are a lot of reasons and each of them could be overcome by a giant contract offer.
The Odds: 17/1
The Unfit: ...which the signing of B.J. Upton doesn’t really address but it might tap the notoriously frugal Braves out anyway.
The Odds: 50/1
The Odds: 1,000/1
New York Yankees
The Unfit: The Yankees are supposedly on an austerity kick. Ha ha! How quaint.
The Odds: 100/1
The Part Where I Stop Writing
Next season PECOTA projects Hamilton will hit .291/.351/.524 with 28 home runs in 594 plate appearances for Texas (in other words, put him in San Diego and those numbers might shrink a bit). That is going to help some team a whole lot next season. Which team that is, I have no idea.