While the Dustin Parkeses and Drew Fairservices of the world are off enjoying their weekend, I’ll be taking the reins and providing you with some content to hold you over until the big boys get back to their desks on Monday morning. Now you can get your Getting Blanked fix seven days a week. You’re welcome.
Over the last few years, the Texas Rangers have gone from claiming bankruptcy to becoming one of the most well-run franchises in the game. They’ve managed to rebuild their farm system, field a competitive team at the major league level, and have gone from near the bottom of the league in attendance to one of the biggest draws in baseball while securing a massive TV deal along the way.
The symbol of this success could very well be outfielder Josh Hamilton. Hamilton, drafted as one of the most talented amateur players we’ve ever seen by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, fell into injury problems, then into drug and alcohol problems, then out of baseball altogether.
After a few years in hell, Hamilton cleaned up his act, was selected as a Rule V pick by the Cincinnati Reds and turned out a tremendous rookie season. He was then traded to the Rangers for Edinson Volquez and in his four seasons with Texas has posted a .311/.366/.541 slash line, knocking out an average of nearly 25 home runs per season and winning an MVP award in 2010.
Now the Rangers and Hamilton have a decision to make.
Hamilton is due to hit the free agent market after the 2012 season and has stated publicly that he would like to stay in Texas, but so far they seem to be a little less eager to dole out the cash needed to keep the talented slugger.
With the Rangers currently negotiating a contract for posted Japanese righthander Yu Darvish that will likely cost the team over $100-million (posting fee and actual contract together), and apparent newfound interest in free agent first baseman Prince Fielder, who could cost more than $150-million, there might not be enough money left to re-sign Hamilton.
The Rangers seem to have a scenario in front of them (and of course, I’m only speculating really) where they’ll have to choose between Fielder and Hamilton long term, if indeed their interest in Fielder is legitimate.
Hamilton has said that he’s willing to discuss an extension between now and Spring Training, but that once the uniform goes on, he won’t negotiate until the following offseason.
In his five year career, Hamilton has been worth a tremendous 20.8 fWAR and has posted a fantastic 135 wRC+. He’s also a very good defensive outfielder which gives him even more value, but the problem, as it has always been for Hamilton, is health. Only twice in his five seasons has he played more than 130 games and outside of his tremendous 8.5 fWAR MVP season in 2010, he’s averaged just over 3.0 fWAR per year or roughly the same as Chris Young and Nick Swisher have been worth over the last four years. Swisher and Young are both very good players, but they are not elite talents like Hamilton.
Fielder, on the other hand, has been worth an average of 3.9 fWAR over his six seasons with the Brewers and has been worth an average of 5.1 fWAR over the last three. He is also three years younger than Hamilton with no apparent durability issues; weight issues notwithstanding.
If I’m Rangers GM Jon Daniels, Fielder is the investment I take the risk on based on his ability to stay consistently healthy. There’s no doubt, however, that if Hamilton stays healthy in 2012 and has the kind of year he’s capable of, he will be cash in huge with somebody next year.
And the rest
Bartolo Colon has reportedly signed with an unknown team. The Yankees, Diamondbacks and A’s had shown interest in the veteran righty with the science experiment for a shoulder, but Jon Heyman tweets that it appears as though neither the D’Backs nor the Yankees have reached an agreement and Bob Nightengale has tweeted that Colon passed on Arizona’s offer. That would appear to leave the A’s as the team that will sign him. Colon posted a 3.57 xFIP and a 3.60 SIERA in 29 appearances with the Yankees last season after missing all of 2010.
In a seemingly classic OrioLOLes move, Baltimore has signed Japanese lefthander Yoshihiro Doi to a minor league contract. Doi missed all of the 2011 season with a knee injury and has pitched just 56.1 innings over the last four seasons.
Based on Hiroki Kuroda’s deal with the Yankees, one NL GM suggests that Roy Oswalt could be had for around $9-million on a one-year deal. I have a feeling whoever does end up signing Oswalt is going to be very pleased they did so. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (link above) seems to think the Rangers, Red Sox, Cardinals and even the Phillies could be the frontrunners.
Yu Darvish has not yet signed with the Rangers and the January 17th deadline to do so is fast approaching. The biggest sticking point in negotiations is the number of years. The Rangers want six, Darvish wants five so he can cash in again on the free agent market while still in his prime. The hang-up is unlikely to dissuade Darvish from signing and a deal should be announced soon.
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