Texas Rangers: Ian Kinsler Contract Spells End for Josh Hamilton Era

Ethan GrantAnalyst IApril 5, 2012

Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler (right) could affect each other's futures.
Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler (right) could affect each other's futures.Leon Halip/Getty Images

Ian Kinsler and the Texas Rangers are working on the framework of a contract extension that would make him the highest paid second baseman in MLB. The details of that contract figure to be higher than the five-year, $62 million deal Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla signed in 2011.

Talks haven't progressed to the point of anything being imminent, specifically because New York Yankees two-bagger Robinson Cano is also seeking a new contract. That will surely drive the market up for Kinsler with the Rangers.

If the Rangers are able to lock up Kinsler for the long term, it could spell big changes on the rest of their free-agent classes in the coming years.

Specifically, it should mean the end for Josh Hamilton's time in Texas. The 2010 MLB MVP has helped turn this franchise from the depths of despair to the epitome of how to run an organization. His all-out effort on the field and big stick at the plate have helped the Rangers play in two consecutive World Series.

Aside from Kinsler, Texas has some personnel decisions to make in the next two offseasons. Michael Young, Nelson Cruz, Mike Napoli, Mike Adams, Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis will all require either extensions or their plane ticket to a new ballclub.

Additionally, what is it going to take to keep Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz around in their prime? What kind of value will Alexi Ogando and Leonys Martin, who both could be starters in the next two seasons, have during their post-arbitration years?

If the Kinsler extension goes through, I think Hamilton's days as a Ranger are over.

There is no doubt that he is worth all the money that a team will give him in free agency. He's the rare five-tool guy who leaves every ounce of his ability on the field; he leaves nothing to doubt about his overall value.

But injuries, age and comments like, "I don't feel I owe the Rangers," will end up leaning GM Jon Daniels and owner Nolan Ryan in the direction of passing on a long-term extension for the former No. 1 overall selection of the Tampa Bay Rays in 1999.

Truthfully, I don't think letting Hamilton slip away is the obvious choice. He's synonymous with many things in Texas, specifically winning. The fans have fallen in love with his redemption story, even if he slips up from time to time.

However, Daniels and Ryan have done a great job protecting the long-term vision of this club so far. Their new TV contract will allow them to be more flexible in the free-agent market, a la the $111 million Yu Darvish expenditure.

Who knows, Hamilton might feel that God is moving him to return to Texas, or that he won't get a better long-term deal with a new team.

But if the money tree is running dry in the minds of Texas brass, don't expect Hamilton to be roaming the outfield in 2013.