The one big free-agent domino left to fall is also the one with the most uncertainty. Josh Hamilton certainly has his share of suitors, at least if you look at the reports currently out there. All that is left for him to decide is which destination is the best fit for him.
Of course, things are never going to be that simple. There are a lot of factors that will play into the decision. Money, length of contract and the opportunity to win would seem to be at the top of the list for a player like Hamilton, who has been a big part of three straight playoff teams in Texas.
As the reports about where Hamilton is attracting a lot of attention continue to come in, here are the destinations that we see as the best fits for the 2010 American League MVP.
No. 4 Milwaukee Brewers
It has been reported that the Brewers have been interested in Hamilton basically since the season ended. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported last week that the Brewers were on the outside looking in with Hamilton.
As much as the Brewers would like another big bat in the middle of their lineup to complement Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez, they should consider themselves lucky that Hamilton appears to be a long shot.
If I am running a National League team, I want no part of Hamilton. It is hard to trust his body holding up over 162 games if he has to play the field every single day. Plus, the Brewers need to focus on adding starting pitching more than they need another bat.
No. 3 Boston Red Sox
It should be noted that the No. 2 and 3 teams on this list could be arranged in either order and not have much of an argument from me.
Alex Speier of WEEI.com reported that the Red Sox are in on Hamilton, but the team remains focused on it's young core.
Hazen says Sox remain engaged with Hamilton and plenty of other free agents, but will see where that goes. Team's core, he says, is youth— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) December 7, 2012
While the Red Sox are great for creating headlines and buzz, their interest in Hamilton is strange considering the investment, in both years and dollars, they would have to make in order to get him.
The big problem with the Red Sox showing interest in Hamilton is they just got out of a slew of bad contracts for aging, declining players last season. Why would you want to jump right back in with another big contract for an inconsistent player over the age of 30?
The Red Sox are still a quality team that can compete for a playoff spot, as long as they stay healthy—something that did not happen last season. There is no need to invest big money in a player like Hamilton right now.
No. 2 Seattle Mariners
Of all the teams to have reportedly shown an interest in Hamilton, the Mariners appear to be making the hardest push. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is reporting Seattle is still aggressive in its pursuit of the All-Star.
The Seattle Mariners, searching for offense, continue to target slugger Josh Hamilton.
The Mariners probably aren't prepared to meet Hamilton's request for a seven-year deal, but they seem to have emerged as the likeliest alternative to the incumbent Rangers by virtue of their perceived willingness to go longer than most...
It is no secret that the Mariners' offense has been a problem for years. Since the start of the 2009 season, they have finished 28th, 30th, 30th and 27th in runs scored.
To make matters even worse, there are no impact position players in their system who can help out in 2013.
Catcher Mike Zunino, the team's first-round pick last June, is their best position player. He is going to need at least a year in the minors, and his offensive upside is good for the position, but he's not a true impact hitter.
Hamilton would represent a significant upgrade for them, so it does make sense for both sides. I just can't see Hamilton alone being enough to push the Mariners into contention in that division with the Rangers, Angels and Athletics.
No. 1 Texas Rangers
Last week, the big story at the winter meetings was the Rangers' involvement in the Zack Greinke sweepstakes. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the team was waiting to get an answer from the best pitcher on the market before deciding what to do next.
The Rangers have been talking to Josh Hamilton, but one source suggested talks are "on hold'' at the moment.
It is believed the holdup may have to do with the Rangers' spirited efforts to land top free-agent starter Zack Greinke.
The Greinke domino dropped on Saturday night, as Heyman also reported that the 2009 AL Cy Young winner agreed to a deal with the Dodgers.
greinke, dodgers in agreement.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 9, 2012
With the Rangers missing out on what appeared to be their top free-agent priority, Hamilton seems to be their fallback plan. They know him better than anyone in the game. Their lineup looks strong without him in the middle of it, but it can be great if he is still there.
Plus, unlike most teams in baseball, the Rangers are smart enough to not overextend themselves on one player, so they are not likely to go overboard with a contract to keep Hamilton around.
The Rangers are still one of the best teams in the American League and completely capable of winning a World Series in 2013. They have the knowledge, resources and need to keep Hamilton around at their price.
It almost makes too much sense for Hamilton not to return to Texas at this point in the game.
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