Josh Hamilton was probably happier than anyone to see the calendar flipped to August. He struggled mightily in July, which was well chronicled, hitting just .177 with 11 RBI.
After hitting .310 with seven homers and 28 RBI in August, the late summer’s frustration has melted away. It’s time to take a peek into Hamilton’s future once again. There are bigger things to worry about right now for the Rangers, such as the surging Athletics, but with every ball the 31-year-old launches out of the park, it’s hard not to think about where he might play next year.
This begs the question: What can the Rangers do to keep him?
The first option is the most obvious, yet it is also complicated: offer him a huge contract. This may start somewhere in the range of the seven-year, $126 million deal Jayson Werth signed with the Nationals two years ago. Werth was 31 when he signed this deal. He did not have the history of substance abuse and injuries as Hamilton. However, even at his best, Werth did not touch the type of production Texas has seen from Hamilton the last five years.
There is a good chance the Rangers will not offer Hamilton this type of contract. It’s not that he doesn’t deserve it, but Texas is trying to build a contender responsibly. The Rangers don’t want to make a big, long-term financial commitment when they have other important players who need new contracts soon as well.
The front office will then have to emphasize other areas that cannot be monetized.
The Rangers have great organizational structure. Nolan Ryan, Jon Daniels and Ron Washington are all firmly in place at their positions. They have been around for all of Hamilton’s great achievements, and they have supported him in his moments of need.
They can also point to the relationships with his teammates. These are guys who went to his first press conference as a Ranger, something he mentioned in his book that meant a lot to him. His teammates also show sensitivity to Hamilton’s struggles when they celebrate in October, spraying each other with ginger ale instead of alcohol.
His front office and teammates combine for something else very important—he can win and succeed in Texas. There isn’t much Hamilton needs on the roster that he doesn’t already have. He has Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler hitting in front of him, two players with speed and great on-base percentage. He also has Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz hitting behind him, giving other teams something to think about when they want to pitch around Josh.
Hamilton is well-known for putting his faith and family before anything else, including baseball. His decision will include many factors besides the potential size of his next paycheck.
At the end of the day, however, it’s going to be tough telling Hamilton to completely ignore the money. He is still a professional athlete when it’s all said and done. This means he has a short window to maximize his earnings and ensure his family’s financial stability.
If he decides to sign with another team that offers one dollar more, that’s his prerogative.
From the outside looking in, it appears Hamilton loves being a Ranger. He has said they will have the first shot at re-signing him, and there are plenty reasons for him to stay. Expect the Rangers to work hard to keep him while also leaving themselves with change in the piggy bank to continue improving the team.
There is still a lot of negotiating left, so maybe Hamilton’s agent and the Rangers can figure out a deal that satisfies both parties.