Josh Hamilton: Would Another MVP Year Guarantee a Rangers Extension?

Austin WynneContributor IMay 2, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 28: Craig Gentry #23 of the Texas Rangers wait to bat against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on April 28, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

In 2007 the Texas Rangers traded Danny Herrera and Edinson Volquez to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder Josh Hamilton.

The former No. 1 pick batted .292 with 19 home runs the previous year with limited at-bats. The Rangers needed a bat and Josh seemed to be an answer.

Fast-forward to today—Hamilton's been an MVP and one of the best players in baseball for the last five years. Hamilton's contract is up after this season, putting the Rangers in position to make a big decision.

Hamilton is off to a ridiculous start. He and Matt Kemp are neck-and-neck for best player in the majors this year. If the season ended today, he'd easily take home the American League MVP honors.

If he keeps up at this pace and stays healthy, it'll be hard for any club not to throw Prince Fielder money at him. 

The Rangers are currently in talks with Hamilton's agent about a contract extension, but his numbers alone this year won't determine the club's commitment to him.

When he's playing, he's obviously one of the top players in the league. Hamilton is a huge injury concern, though, and the club is going to monitor his health throughout the season.

You can assume that if he plays a full season, Hamilton will put up MVP numbers, but it depends on the club's use of him. If he is DH'ing more often than not, the Rangers will think twice before throwing big money his way. 

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 07:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on April 7, 2012 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Rangers have stayed away from big contracts ever since Alex Rodriguez's deal.

Hamilton will likely want more than a six-year deal and the team has kept everyone's contract around that time frame. Hamilton's likelihood of staying with the Rangers will depend on his willingness to take around a six-year deal.

The Rangers have taken steps to show their fans and players that they're going to do what they can to keep this core group together.

They signed Derek Holland to a five-year, $28 million extension. They just made Ian Kinsler the highest-paid second baseman in baseball with a five-year, $75 million deal.

The management group likes what it has. They overachieved the last two years and I figure this core group of players has a three- to five-year window to really be one of the elite teams.

Hamilton, like the Rangers, has a choice to make.

Does he want to be part of something special until the end of his career? The Rangers are a young team and the front office has made a commitment to keeping them together for as long as they can. 

Would an MVP year guarantee a contract from the team?

Absolutely not. The choice is going to end up being Hamilton's to make. Stay with the team that gave him a shot and the means to be the star that he is, or take a big long-term deal elsewhere.