Josh Hamilton, Rangers Agree to Minor League Contract: Latest Details, Reaction

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 17, 2017

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 14:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers reacts after doubling in the sixth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays in game five of the American League Division Series at Rogers Centre on October 14, 2015 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Veteran outfielder Josh Hamilton reached an agreement Tuesday to re-sign with the Texas Rangers

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports first reported the new deal and noted the contract includes an option for Hamilton to request his release if he's not on the April 1 roster. Heyman also stated the new pact is for the minimum MLB salary ($535,000), if he makes the team.

Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram confirmed the minor league deal.

Hamilton said he will try to play first base, per TR Sullivan of MLB.com. Hamilton also told reporters said he has been cleared to resume all baseball activities.

The 35-year-old slugger has failed to make an impact in recent years due to a combination of nagging injuries and off-field issues. He missed the entire 2016 season with the Rangers after undergoing surgery, his third procedure in a 10-month span, to reconstruct the ACL in his left knee.

In 2015, Bill Madden and Michael O'Keeffe of the New York Daily News reported Hamilton met with MLB officials after suffering a cocaine and alcohol relapse. His highly publicized struggle with addiction to those substances has caused several setbacks throughout his career.

The North Carolina native's on-field talent is undeniable, though. He's a five-time All-Star and won the Silver Slugger Award three times during his prime with the Rangers.

Hamilton's best year came in 2010 when he was named American League MVP. He won the batting title with a .359 average to go with 32 home runs, 100 RBIs and 95 runs scored. He also stole eight bases and finished with a 1.044 OPS.

Now, the question is whether he can still perform at that level. His last full season came with the Los Angeles Angels in 2013, and his numbers were well off from his peak. He posted a .250/.307/.432 line with 21 homers in 151 games.

Last July, Hamilton told Sullivan he expected to be at full strength by spring training, and he expressed confidence in his ability.

"One-hundred percent," Hamilton said. "I feel confident when I'm healthy, and really healthy, I'm as good as anybody in the game."

Agreeing to a one-year deal for the minimum will force Hamilton to prove himself, though. His most likely path to playing time would come at DH for the Rangers, but at the outset, he'll probably battle Ryan Rua and Delino DeShields for a bench spot throughout the spring.

Ultimately, it's a low-risk move for the Rangers based on the salary and Hamilton's previous track record of success. He could prove to be a savvy signing, if he stays healthy.

The first major hurdle for the 1999 first overall pick will be making it through spring training without any injury setbacks. If that happens, there's a good chance he'll earn a spot on the Opening Day roster.

                                          

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