We’re in the famous Dead Zone of the off-season. Most of the free agents are signed, trades are few and far between, Spring Training is still a couple weeks away. Not much going on.
We are, however, mere days away (12 to be exact) from Valentines Day. Rangers fans actually don’t want to hear any news on Valentines Day because, if there is, it can mean only one thing: the Rangers and Josh Hamilton couldn’t come to a contract agreement and his case will be heard by an arbitrator on the 14th.
Hamilton is a tricky case in that his troubled past could mean he never gets in the rarefied contract air of the A-Rods, Cliff Lees and Albert Pujols of the world. The reigning MVP had an incredible season in 2010, but still has a ton of what-ifs hanging over his head- what if he relapses… what if he continues having health problems… what if he can’t string together back to back great seasons.
Hamilton is already 29 years old, an age where most stars get the best contracts they’re ever going to get, but Hamilton is just in his first arbitration year. He won’t reach free agency until he’s 32. By then, he could get an Adrian Beltre type contract, which would be pretty darn good, but not in the upper startosphere of salaries.
Here’s where we stand right now. The Rangers are offering between 8-9 million, Hamilton’s asking for 12 million. The Rangers haven’t had to go to arbitration in about nine years, so there is definitely talking going on right now between the two parties. The big question is, for how much and for how long?
My feeling is the Rangers sign Hamilton before the Valentines Day arbitration date and that he signs for three years at about $36 million- $10 million in ’11, $12 million in ’12 and $14 million in ’13. It could be he’ll sign for two years, hoping if he stays healthy both years, he’ll get that one shot at the “real” money contract. I just don’t want a Valentines Day disappointment of an adversarial meeting of the front office and the team’s premium player.
On a more fun note, the trailer is out for the 2011 version of MLB: The Show and it features the Rangers in all their glory. Check it out if you get the chance: http://www.ign.com/videos/2011/01/31/mlb-11-the-show-gameplay-trailer?objectid=95027