As all baseball fans know by this point, free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton is looking for big bucks and many years this offseason. Considering that he's the most talented player on the free agent market, it's certainly to be expected that he'll get the deal he's looking for.
However, there's been speculation everywhere in the baseball universe about whether it will actually happen, given Hamilton's history with drug abuse and fluke injuries.
Thus brings up the question: If Hamilton waited until the market played out and signed later in the offseason, would that help or hurt his value, as well as helping or hurting the Orioles' chances of signing Hamilton to a deal they'd like to have him on?
Answering questions like these during baseball's offseason, and especially during baseball's winter meetings, is more guess work than it is a science. No one really knows anything until it's official and there's a signature on a contract.
However, I don't expect a longer wait to sign to seriously effect Hamilton's value at all. Sure, players like B.J. Upton and Angel Pagan have already agreed to deals, thinning out the market and providing fewer suitors for guys like Hamilton or Shane Victorino, but the kind of talent that Hamilton is doesn't just decrease in value. Hamilton is arguably one of the top five or ten players in baseball based on skill-set, so regardless of what happens, teams will still be lining up to duke it out for his services.
And though there's now a shorter list of potential fits for Hamilton, the teams who still remain on the list will feel a stronger sense of urgency to get a deal done with the talented lefty bat, keeping his price tag high in lieu of other interested teams filling their holes on the ball field.
In terms of the Orioles, waiting will only hurt their chances to grab Hamilton if they actually have serious interest in doing so.
It wouldn't be smart for any team to place all their hopes on one player—teams typically look all over the market and compile a short list of players they'd like to have to fill a need, and then attempt to acquire whomever appears to be easiest to add to their roster. So the longer Hamilton waits to sign, the more likely it is that the O's will have filled the spots they need to, negating the need for Hamilton.
On the first day of the winter meetings, the O's reportedly have interest in both Billy Butler of the Kansas City Royals and free agent Adam LaRoche, and though it's probably unlikely, a deal could get done within the next 12 hours, making this piece obsolete to the Orioles and their fans. And an addition of either of these two or a player of their caliber are much more likely than a Josh Hamilton signing. But speculation never hurt, and it seems as though the "mystery team" has landed the big catch more times than not over the past half-decade.
It's baseball's winter meetings. Anything can happen.