Josh Hamilton says he wants somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 years and 175 million dollars.
And we’re all shaking our heads. The red flags of risk management are waving. Alarms are sounding. You just could never give this guy that kind of money, could you?
Hamilton is one of the most talented baseball players to ever step on a field. He also possesses one of the most tragic pasts, steeped in drug abuse, that you’ll ever hear. Yes. He’s out of the mess. Yes. He has relapsed. Yes…the fear of him doing so again has many teams avoiding his free agency.
But–and there’s always a but–there are a few teams that have begun to compile a shortlist. Teams which are interested in Hamilton the offensive producer and solid defender, regardless of the potential risks.
Texas? Let’s just scratch the Rangers off the list. I’m one who believes that Texas will immediately drop below Anaheim in the AL West power rankings if they lose Hamilton, but the organization just doesn’t seem interested retaining his services.
Baltimore. A team on the rise. A team that has fans digging deep into old drawers and storage boxes to find jerseys, t-shirts and hats that they haven’t been able to enjoy for well over a decade. Hamilton could fit the bill.
But–there’s always another but–a smaller market might be better suited to Hamilton’s personality and daily struggles with sobriety. Enter Milwaukee. Hamilton and Ryan Braun side by side in the outfield? A 3-4 punch in the lineup? There’s potential there. And the Brewers didn’t have to overspend to keep Prince Fielder around last season. They’ve got some money to spend.
Seattle is another squad who is in this conversation. The Mariners have absolutely sucked over the past decade, but that suck seemed less sucky last season–they were far more competitive on the field. Add a Hamilton to the mix. Heck, they’re already moving the fences in by several feet. This could be precisely what the city of Seattle needs. But I don’t believe Seattle is what Hamilton needs.
I’m surprised Theo Epstein hasn’t jumped into the mix for the Chicago Cubs. It would seem that a young team like the Cubs could benefit from the wisdom and “real life” stories of Hamilton. The admiring youth could help Hamilton in kind. But…this would also mean the Cubs were moving to win, and well…they’re the Cubs.
Brass tacks. I don’t see any team offering 7 years. I’m gonna go with 5 plus and option. And the payout, somewhere in the 80 million range. You can’t deny the talent; you can’t ignore the risk.