Last winter, Albert Pujols signed a 10-year, $250 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Then Prince Fielder signed a nine-year, $214 million contract with the Detroit Tigers, followed in April by Joey Votto, who signed a 10-year, $225 million contract extension with the Cincinnati Reds.
A lot of money is being spent on marquee baseball players. Josh Hamilton will not be an exception to that rule.
In spite of his personal demons, Hamilton has grown into one of the best all-around players in the game.
As a center fielder, he also plays a position of substantial need this winter. The Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers will all target quality center fielders during the offseason.
As a career .305 batter with a .930 lifetime OPS, Hamilton is an extremely attractive commodity.
There are concerns, of course. First and foremost, he is a recovering addict. With addiction comes risk; it is just the nature of the beast.
More so, at 31 years old (32 in May), he is on the back nine of his prime. The average age of Pujols, Fielder and Votto at the time of their new deals was 29.
While that may not come across as a significant factor, it will play a part in the length of contract Hamilton can expect.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today:
Five major league talent evaluators, speaking on condition of anonymity because of MLB's tampering rules, project Hamilton will earn at least $20 million annually in his new deal. The length of the contract is more debated, though the evaluators think Hamilton should get at least a five-year deal.
Baseball Prospectus' John Perrotto tweeted this on Friday:
While the $25 million average annual salary might have been obtainable when he was 28 years old, Hamilton might be shooting a bit high.
Among comparable players, one must look at the deal that Matt Kemp just signed in Los Angeles for the Dodgers. It was an eight-year deal for $160 million.
Kemp, 27 years old at the time of his extension, naturally received a longer-term deal.
Hamilton's agent, Michael Moye, can use Kemps' contract as leverage. Kemp has been an All-Star twice, a two-time Gold Glove winner, a two-time Silver Slugger Award winner and was the 2011 NL MVP runner-up.
Don't be mistaken, that is an impressive resume. However, Hamilton is a five-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger Award winner and was the 2010 AL MVP.
Here is the latest buzz on teams that are willing to do more than kick the tires on him.