2012 MLB Free Agents: Prince Fielder Negotiations Will Seal Josh Hamilton's Fate

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistJanuary 16, 2012

MILWAUKEE, WI - OCTOBER 09:  Prince Fielder #28 of the Milwaukee Brewers rounds the bases on his 2-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during Game one of the National League Championship Series at Miller Park on October 9, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

While the Texas Rangers may hold all the cards this offseason, any potential moves they make this year are going to drastically alter the way the team looks in 2013. In fact, as Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram said, their interest in Prince Fielder is going to determine what happens with Josh Hamilton. 

There seems to be a consensus out there that the Yu Darvish negotiations are going to determine what the Rangers do when deciding about Prince Fielder, but this team is still in desperate need of a first baseman. And Fielder is the best one on the market:

Fielder would be an upgrade, though at a steep price. So steep, in fact, that having him on the payroll could push a long-term extension for Hamilton out of the 2013 budget.

With the Yu Darvish negotiations seemingly on track for a multi-year contract, the Rangers might not be deciding between Darvish and Fielder. They could be deciding which left-handed slugger they'd rather have—Fielder or Hamilton.

To be honest, this shouldn't be an argument. If the Rangers can sign Fielder and have him in the same lineup as Hamilton for 2012, they should do it.

When Hamilton hits free agency after next season, the team should thank him for all that he has done for it and move on. I know that he is a great hitter, but he is going to be 31 in May and has missed at least 29 games in each of the last three seasons.

Fielder, on the other hand, is just 27 years old, can move to designated hitter if/when his body doesn't allow him to play the field and will be more productive than Hamilton over the next five years. 

The Rangers have gotten so close to winning the World Series the last two years that they need to go all-in this year to put themselves over the top. They are working on signing the starting pitcher they need, they are trying to swipe Fielder to fill out their lineup, and Hamilton is working his way back to full strength. 

If they are able to finally break through and win a championship this season, anything that happens after that is irrelevant.