Hamilton will be paid handsomely no matter where he goes.
MLB's winter meetings may be over, but the hot stove is just heating up, as buzz on some top players including Josh Hamilton, Zach Greinke and Michael Bourn continues to build.
Let's first start off with Josh Hamilton. The 2010 AL MVP is probably the most coveted free agent on the market, but it seems unclear where he may be heading. Will he come back to the Texas Rangers or find his home elsewhere in 2013?
Joel Sherman of the New York Post sent out a tweet that could be telling regarding the Rangers' desire for Hamilton:
#Rangers prefer signing Greinke, trading for Upton. That would mean passing on Hamilton— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 6, 2012
It seems like the Rangers would rather pay for a big-name pitcher such as Zach Greinke and trade for Justin Upton rather than just re-sign Hamilton.
Dallasnews.com's Evan Grant seems to think the Rangers could haul in Hamilton, Zack Greinke and Justin Upton if they play their cards right. The basis of his argument is the lack of long-term deals for Hamilton and Nolan Ryan's pitch to expand the budget for the team. With an expanded budget, the Rangers would be able to reel in both players and also dangle Derek Holland and prospect Mike Olt.
It was previously thought to be a two-team race to get Hamilton between the Rangers and Seattle Mariners, but it appears the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees want to crash the party.
According to Alex Speier of WEEI, Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen said the team is still "in dialogue" with Hamilton. The Red Sox appear to be on the way up after a disastrous 68-win season in 2012, and they have added Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli to the team already.
Meanwhile, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the Yankees are running a background check on Hamilton.
It still seems like a wide-open race for the slugger.
Star pitcher Zack Greinke is the top pitching commodity out there on the market. His services are desired by many teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers and Rangers. According to CBSSPORTS.com's Jon Heyman, Dodgers people are beginning to wonder whether Greinke may simply prefer Texas. Heyman also reports that the Rangers believe there could be a mystery third team in the race, which might be the team he has most recently pitched for, the Los Angeles Angels.
For now, the situation seems very fluid and uncertain, as the top pitcher essentially has the freedom to go wherever he wants.
Finally, speedster outfielder Michael Bourn is a big part of the free agent conversations. According to CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury, Bourn is looking for a huge payday in the $100 million range. The Philadelphia Phillies are in the market for a center fielder, but are they willing to fork over that money when they already have a bunch of big contracts on their books?
According to Heyman, the Mariners look to be one of the top suitors for the services of Bourn as many other teams have already filled their void at center field. His options seem to be dwindling by the day, but big-time agent Scott Boras has a way of surprising people with what he is able to pull for his clients.
These three players will be at the center of talks until they sign on with a team. Until then, let the speculation and rumors continue to fly.