Rangers, Hamilton Long-Term Contract Talks Continue

Matthew IrbySenior Analyst IMarch 31, 2009

NEW YORK - JULY 15:  Josh Hamilton bats during the 2008 MLB All-Star State Farm Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium on July 14, 2008 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by: Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Last week the Texas Rangers offered their first long-term contract to All-Star outfielder Josh Hamilton and his agent, Michael Moye.  Many have heard and made a big deal about Hamilton and his agent turning the initial offer down, stating that they were “disappointed” with the offer.

Local media and fans have taken this as a bad sign for the future of Hamilton with the Rangers.

Let me address that right now. Never should anyone read too much into initial offers, ever. Every single time that an organization and an athlete sit down to work out either a new contract or contract extension, the first draft is never accepted.  It has never happened.

The Texas Rangers and Hamilton’s agent are still moving forward with the contract negotiations, however with only six days until Opening Day it is unlikely that the deal will get done at this time.

That is not a bad thing. I am just as much of a Josh Hamilton fan as anybody, I would argue that I’m a bigger fan. Last season when we traded with Cincinnati for him, I would have taken a flight to his home and helped him move down here or picked him up personally at the airport. 

Probably didn’t need it, but I would have done it.

Because of his service time in professional baseball, the Rangers hold the rights to re-sign him up until 2012.

Now I’m not saying that they should wait until then to re-sign Hamilton, but I personally would rather the organization wait until the end of this season to pursue a long-term contract.

The team does have a history of signing young players to long-term contracts during Spring Training, Michael Young, Hank Blalock, and Ian Kinsler last season.

With that in mind look for the team to lock him up during the 2010 off-season or Spring Training.

For many fans that sounds crazy to not lock him up right now for a long time, but I have three good reasons for waiting.

First, Spring Training is coming to a close and the season is starting. I have never liked the idea of a player, even through his agent, involved in contract negotiations during the season.  That is a time to let the player worry only about his play on the field and not think about his future plans with the team at all.

Second, as mentioned before Hamilton cannot become a free agent until 2012 due to his time in professional baseball. Also, Hamilton is not eligible for arbitration until the end of 2010, so the Rangers have over a year and a half to get a long-term contract done.

Third, Hamilton is a great player, he is a five-tool player, he is an MVP-caliber player, he is potential a Hall of Fame player, but there still are some risks.

Don’t forget that he was out of baseball for three whole years due to his addiction to drugs.  What did that time away and that addiction do to his body? Long-term damage?

I have not forgotten that this is the same player that batted .304, hit 32 home runs, and drove in 130 RBI. This is the same player that WOW-ed an entire nation with his power hitting display at the 2008 Home Run Derby. The is the same player that has inspired thousands with his story about his comeback from the addictions.

I have not forgotten that at all, I’m just concerned about his ability to complete a full season, injury-free. The wear-and-tear of a full Major League season can cause a ton of pain and fatigue on players, so I would like to see Hamilton complete one more season and see how his body responds.

I’m 100 percent in favor of the Rangers signing Josh Hamilton to a long-term contract.  I’ve seen him play, he is great for the team, the fans, and the organization. Anybody that saw his Home Run Derby performance, come out to batting practice, he does that same thing all the time.

All I’m saying is that it is in the team’s best interest to wait until the end of the season to lock Hamilton up is a long-term deal.  And I do believe that it will happen and Josh Hamilton will spend at least the next 5-7 years in a Rangers’ uniform.