Josh Hamilton: Texas Rangers Would Be Fine Without Star Slugger

Tim KeeneyContributor IOctober 24, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 05:  Ian Kinsler #5 of the Texas Rangers looks on dejected after teammate Josh Hamilton #32 struck ut to end the bottom of the eighth inning against the Baltimore Orioles during the American League Wild Card playoff game  at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 5, 2012 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

It’s never easy to let a local hero walk into the dreaded waters of free agency, but if the Texas Rangers are smart, they’ll let Josh Hamilton drown.

Or, you know, something less horrible-sounding than that.

Hamilton’s impact on the Rangers over the past half-decade has been unrivaled.

The first season he got to Texas, he crushed 32 home runs, led the league with 130 RBI and finished seventh in AL MVP voting. After fighting through injuries the next season, Hamilton led the American League with a .359 batting average, .633 slugging percentage and ridiculous 1.044 OPS en route to the MVP in 2010.

In five total seasons, the lefty hit .305/.363/.549 with an average of 28 homers and 101 RBI. When extrapolated to 162 games, those numbers jump to 36 bombs and 127 RBI per season. He was the most consistent force on a team that finished second in the AL West three times, first two times and made it the World Series twice.

For reference, before Hamilton got to Texas, the Rangers had finished third or worse in the West eight straight seasons.

So, yeah, it’s understandable that Rangers fans wouldn’t want to see Hamilton depart from the team he helped turn around.

But, as ESPN’s Richard Durrett reported, Hamilton’s days in Texas appear to be numbered:

The Texas Rangers will not be making any offers to Josh Hamilton before he hits the open market in free agency.

Clubs have a chance to negotiate with their own prospective free agents, but Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said the team agreed with Hamilton's representatives that the slugger would test the market, so they'll wait to see how it shakes out.

Letting Hamilton sign with another team for nine figures would unequivocally be the right move for Daniels from a roster standpoint.

First of all, the Rangers would be banking on a 32-year-old with significant—significant as in more than any free agent of this stature ever—baggage to be productive for likely at least five more years.

Hamilton has less mileage on his legs than most players his age, but it’s hard to imagine him keeping up production that is worth the elite money as he continues deeper into his 30s.

Moreover, the more moolah doled out to Hamilton in the coming years would only further decrease the chances of Texas holding onto prospects such as Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt and established young stars such as Elvis Andrus, as the time for re-signing them approaches.

Finally, it’s not like Texas is struggling for bats. Yes, Hamilton’s power is nearly irreplaceable, and yes, Texas struggled over the final few weeks of the season, but you aren’t going to find a team with a more dangerous lineup than the Rangers, which led the AL in runs per game in 2012. 

Josh Hamilton has meant a lot to this organization over the past five years, but where he puts this team over the next five versus where it will be without him is far from worth $100 million. 


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