Major League Baseball franchises will be lining up this offseason to give All-Star outfielder Josh Hamilton the payday he deserves, but Texas is the only place he belongs.
Hamilton saw eight pitches in four at-bats in Friday night's loss to the Baltimore Orioles. This eventually led to a chorus of boos from the Rangers crowd, leaving his future destination even more up in the air.
Fans will be fans, and they should expect more from their star, but it's not like he's the problem.
This is a mutually beneficial relationship.
Hamilton propels his squad through the regular season with stellar production (.285, 43 home runs and 128 RBI this year, and that doesn't even mention his .577 slugging percentage), and the Rangers put up with some of Hamilton's baggage.
The Rangers need Hamilton as much as he needs the Rangers. It's tiring and frustrating, but it works.
Hamilton could take his talents elsewhere this offseason. A plethora of teams will throw cash at him, regardless of his .227 average in 34 career postseason games.
Why would Hamilton go anywhere else though? It's not like Texas is going anywhere.
Recent disappointments or not, this is still a very well-run franchise with money to spend. Early exits are tough to swallow, but this squad isn't going anywhere.
Hamilton is protected in Texas' lineup to perfection. It's impossible to pitch around him, allowing him to maximize his MVP-caliber numbers every year.
On top of that, Rangers Ballpark at Arlington is a bandbox. Hamilton, and pretty much everyone else, can absolutely rake at will while playing there.
What should Hamilton do?
Hamilton could potentially walk into a combustible Boston Red Sox locker room, with a new manager and equally high, if not higher, expectations.
He could join any team looking for a power hitter or that's simply trying to tell its fans it's trying, but Texas presents a better chance at winning than most.
Texas probably isn't going to throw oodles of cash at its maligned outfielder, but don't let his baggage create a bigger issue than it is.
Baseball is a business, but everyone wants to win. Hamilton has put the Rangers through lazy games, dropped fly balls, major slumps and relapses, but they've stood by him for this long.
At least to a point, there's loyalty there. That's more than he is going to find anywhere else.
Texas knows Hamilton's story, and they know what they're getting, whether they like it or not. No other franchise truly understands that, making them less likely to put up with his antics.
Hamilton will always carry risk, but his production makes him worth it. If he wants to continue lighting up the scoreboard, Arlington is the place to be.