This isn’t a total surprise. The Mariners need a big bat—desperately. They need one so badly that it’s not totally out of the question to consider them giving Hamilton the contract he seeks, or close to it.
Seattle is not in win-now mode, but they have slowly improved their record in each of the past three seasons. Their lone superstar, Felix Hernandez, is a free agent in a few years, and he'll understandably be hesitant to sign an extension with a team that isn’t serious about winning.
Hamilton is a very marketable star who can put fans in the bleachers, something the Mariners don’t exactly do well on days Hernandez isn’t on the mound. He is also an immediate improvement in the middle of their lineup. The 2010 American League MVP is the type of player not seen in Seattle since Ken Griffey Jr. roamed the outfield.
These are all persuasive reasons for Hamilton to call the Pacific Northwest home next season, but let’s look at the other side of the coin.
Safeco Field is not a hitter’s paradise. In fact, it’s historically been a place where good hitters disappear. If Hamilton needs convincing of this, all he has to do is talk to his teammate in Texas, Adrian Beltre.
Beltre had a great career with the Dodgers, a very good season in Boston and now two excellent seasons in Texas. He is a great player, but a quick look at his career numbers leaves people scratching their head. Beltre could possibly be in the Hall of Fame discussion had he not spent those five seasons in Seattle.
This is not all about Hamilton saying no to the Mariners. They have plenty to consider as well.
Hamilton’s age, injury history and drug and alcohol problems are all well chronicled. They are issues that all bidding teams must consider, not just the Mariners in particular.
In terms of his on-the-field production, Seattle will heavily depend on the 32-year-old to put runs on the board if they sign him. Hamilton is a very talented hitter, but his tendency to swing at pitches way outside the strike zone inhibits his ability to truly carry an offense. This problem was seen in full force during the 2012 stretch run.
At the right price, Hamilton is a perfect fit anywhere. However, it will likely take a lot of money and years on a contract to lure him to Safeco Field. Contracts such as these can hurt a team’s flexibility.
Also, despite all his gifts, it would require a superhuman effort by Josh to take a team ranked 27th in runs scored and turn them into an offense capable of making the playoffs.
It just seems like a bad fit.