Josh Hamilton Free Agency: Latest Rumors on Orioles, Mariners & More

Christopher Benvie@CSBenvie81Correspondent IINovember 6, 2012

Josh Hamilton Free Agency: Latest Rumors on Orioles, Mariners & More

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    With every day that passes, more and more free-agent rumors start to swirl about.

    Josh Hamilton is far from exempt from these rumors. After having made his demands last week of a seven-year $175 million contract, several teams have either had their interest peaked or have shied away completely.

    Hamilton is a fascinating case. He is a prolific baseball talent whom has been haunted by his personal demons in the past. He is in what many consider to be in the latter portion of his prime while seeking a long-term big-money contract.

    Sure enough, someone will pay the man.

    Here's the latest on some teams that have been tied to Hamilton recently.


    A National League executive tells ESPN's Jayson Stark what a lot of us have been quietly thinking to ourselves:

    One NL exec gave this review of Josh Hamilton's appeal today: "He's going to break somebody's bank -- & probably break somebody's heart."

    — Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) November 12, 2012

    Will Hamilton find a situation where he will not be under immense pressure to live up to his contract immediately?


    CBS Sports baseball insider Jon Heyman gives us the state of the Hamilton chase:

    The Phillies are believed to have superstar outfielder Josh Hamilton as a fallback option in case B.J. Upton and Michael Bourn can't be signed. So Hamilton is at least on their radar.

    Beyond that, it is hard to tell exactly where the best and highest-profile position player on the free-agent market stands with anyone. (And that isn't especially helpful since he isn't the first or second option there, it appears.)

    It certainly sounds like we are still in the dance-and-flirt stage between Hamilton and baseball's GM's with no indication on when Hamilton or a team wants to get serious.

    With such a weak crop of overall free agents, there really is not another hitting star to set the market price for Hamilton and teams to follow.

    Unless we are all being told a fast one, expect this to go on into December.


    Someone that is in Hamilton's camp needs to be doing some damage control now.

    Tucked in Buster Olney's blog (Subscription Required) was this:

    There are some executives who privately say they are comfortable offering him a three-year deal, with significant protective language written into the deal by the team. We don't know yet if any team will step up and offer him a deal of four or more years.

    It seems his off-season troubles last year have really hurt his chances to get the mega-deal he is in the ballpark for.

    The question going forward is will he take a short deal to prove to his new team he is worth the risk?

Seattle Mariners

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    FRIDAY 11/16 UPDATE:

    Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik tells Greg Johns of that they likely will not be pursing Hamilton:

    Zduriencik didn't slam the door on Hamilton, but indicated the length of contract and financial commitment the five-time All-Star outfielder will be seeking "might surpass where we're going to be" and that it would be unwise for the Mariners to put all their eggs in that basket while waiting for the free-agent dance to play out.

    "You have to be realistic about how you're going to allocate your dollars," Zduriencik said. "Some of these things drag out and if you're sitting there waiting on one chip, other chips in front of you might go away and you end up with nothing."

    This is not all together too surprising. Hamilton is going to get a deal that will pay north of $20 million per year and the Mariners were not going to commit to that long term.

    Whether this is negotiating through the press or the real deal remains to be fully seen, but realistically seeing Seattle shell out $180-200 million was hard to do.

    November 8th Update:

    We already knew the Baltimore Orioles were interested in the Josh Hamilton race before the postseason came to an end, but the Seattle Mariners are the latest entries into the battle—according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

    Hamilton might be a good fit in Seattle, where the pressure and off-field distractions will be at a minimum, and a young team built around pitching is desperately looking for an offensive leader.

    Will they cough up the $175 million that Hamilton is reportedly seeking?

    I can’t say I’d expect that to be the case, but the Mariners making a huge splash would be added enticement for Felix Hernandez to stick around in Seattle long-term.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    ESPN's Jayson Stark breaks some news regarding the Phillies being no longer really interested in Hamilton.

    When asked about whether they were given the green light from ownership to make a big offer, he said:

    "I don't know that yet," he said. "We haven't been given a real budget. I know it's not unlimited, but that's not usually how we work. There are limitations, but each situation is unique, in and of itself. We didn't budget for Cliff Lee. But we signed Cliff Lee. We haven't budgeted for a bunch of things we've done. Each situation is different."

    Hamilton and the Phillies seem like they would have been a very good match for each other.

    You have to ask yourself if Hamilton's demands are just too much for his suitors to swallow and he could end up settling for a really big two-three year deal instead.


    ESPN's Buster Olney tells us via twitter that:

    The Phillies are OK with the high annual salary that Josh Hamilton might command, but they have concerns about the length of the deal.

    — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 12, 2012

    The Phillies would actually be a decent fit for Hamilton as they have other big name hitters and pitchers to help him win a World Series.

    If he wants the short term cash and a championship, there is some serious merit in choosing the Phillies.

Baltimore Orioles

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    Though he did not reference any particular sources, Press Box Online's Matt Palmer mentions in a recent blog post that Josh Hamilton's name has been thrown around in Baltimore.

    While Palmer suggests the linking of Hamilton to Baltimore as being completely unlikely, he does make a valid point that the Orioles have been tied to several big-name players over the past few years without pulling the trigger. 

    This could be the year that changes.

    The Orioles made the playoffs for the first time since 1997 and took the New York Yankees to five games in the ALDS, ultimately being outscored 16-10 during the series.

    Adding Josh Hamilton to the mix could be just the thing this young team needs to put them over the edge.

    UPDATE November 7

    According to Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi, the Orioles are targeting Hamilton as well as Cody Ross in an effort to make a splash this winter.

    The Orioles entered the 2012 season with the 19th-highest team payroll in Major League Baseball. This could be the year they open up their checkbooks.

    If nothing else, this is a team to keep on the radar during the Hamilton sweepstakes.


    ESPN's Buster Olney (Subscription required) tells us that they are likely not going to make a bid for Hamilton's services stating he is too much of a risk:

    The Orioles have talked about adding a bat -- but they are not expected to be in the conversations with Josh Hamilton. As with a lot of other teams, there is great concern about the risk with the slugger.

    Hamilton's risks are scaring the teams he could have thrived with. First the Phillies and now the Orioles.

Boston Red Sox

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    MLB Network Radio's Jim Bowden shares this nugget from an interview with GM Ben Cherington:

    Ben Cherington told us that they are still pursuing FA Josh Hamilton calling him " a terrific talent" SXM 209/89

    — JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) November 20, 2012

    It is fair to say that Red Sox Nation would be pretty split over his signing.


    WEEI's Rob Bradford tells us this morning that the reported Boston interest is "overblown":

    While the Red Sox are in the market for a pair of outfielders this offseason, Hamilton -- considered by most as the premier free agent on the market -- doesn't appear to be near the top of the team's list of players it hopes to target. While the Sox have talked to the 31-year-old's agent, Michael Moye, the communication was the same kind of due diligence done for a multitude of free agents.

    When asked about the team's potential interest in Hamilton while appearing on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said: "We’ve talked, by this time in the offseason, like most teams, we’ve talked to just about every agent of any prominent free agent. That’s part of our job, to do that due diligence. That doesn’t mean anything other than we’ve met with several agents for all of the higher-profile -- and some lesser-profile -- free agents. It’s really part of due diligence, get more information as to what guys are looking for, how it might fit into what we’re doing. Now is the time when we try to hone in on the guys who make the most sense for us."

    It is really hard to see the Red Sox giving anyone a seven or eight-year deal after the last few blew up in their face.

    (H/T MLB Trade Rumors)


    CBS Sports baseball insider Jon Heyman reports this morning that the Boston Red Sox are seriously thinking of making an offer for Hamilton:

    The Red Sox admit they are giving some thought to Hamilton. They need two outfielders, and the belief has been that they are more inclined to fill multiple holes with multiple medium-priced players than go for the big splash in the wake of the failure that was the Carl Crawford contract.

    However, with Crawford dispatched (along with Adrian Gonalzez and Josh Beckett), they have a lot of money, and it is known they have at least checked in on free-agent outfieler Michael Bourn. The impression left at the GM meetings was that they were involved in more things than anyone else.

    Like the Mariners, Hamilton landing in Boston does not put him any closer to winning a World Series.

    The whole point of Boston's purge last year was to shed bad payroll and signing Hamilton to the kind of deal he wants would show that the Red Sox front office has learned really nothing since.

    Even with the Toronto Blue Jays' recent fleecing of the Miami Marlins, Hamilton would not make Boston back into a contender if they signed him.

    If he could not handle the pressures of Dallas, he would not be able to handle the daily pressure of Boston.


    From the idle speculation department this morning comes this gem of a column from the Boston Herald's Jon Tomase.

    He suggests:

    Make overwhelming one-year offers in free agency.

    Josh Hamilton’s multi-year market doesn’t materialize? Blow him away. Mike Napoli’s multi-year market doesn’t materialize? Blow him away. Dan Haren and Hiroki Kuroda might only be looking at one year anyway. Might as well be here.

    This basically would be what the Red Sox did with Adrian Beltre a few years back.

    The difference this time is that Hamilton is not coming off a bad year in Texas. He is coming off a season that saw hit hit .285, bomb 43 homers and drive in 128.

    Some team will meet his 8/$175 demands or go 3/$80-90 to win now. Hamilton is not coming to Boston just to chill on ice for a year waiting to see which bank he can break in 2014.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    The Milwaukee Brewers are a team whose name keeps popping up in Josh Hamilton Conversations.

    Despite general manager Doug Melvin playing coy in terms of budget allocations for free agents, the fact of the matter is that Hamilton would make a great fit in Milwaukee.

    According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Brewers have cut ties with center fielder Nyjer Morgan.

    This could mean that the team is making way to sign a free agent, unless of course, they are comfortable moving forward with either Khris Davis or Logan Schafer as their everyday choice.

    Then again, acquiring Hamilton via free agency would afford the team to deal Davis or Schafer or both in an effort to bolster their pitching staff, both in the rotation and in the bullpen.

Texas Rangers

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    Apropos of nothing other than fan opinion, but an interesting tidbit nonetheless, MLB Trade Rumors posted a poll asking fans if they thought Josh Hamilton would be back with the Rangers in 2013.

    A modest 73 percent believe he will be playing elsewhere.

    While the front office is saying all of the right things and made Hamilton a qualifying offer of $13.3 million, those that have been paying attention all year long should be able to see the forest for the trees.

    Hamilton's days in Texas are numbered. If by some strange twist he winds up back there, this writer, for one, will be shocked.


    Fort Worth Star-Telegram Rangers reporter Jeff Wilson tells us that both sides continue to talk and "a clearer picture" is emerging on Hamilton's direction.

    General Manager Jon Daniels tells Wilson:

    "Both sides still feel the same way, and we'll continue to talk. There's no formal timeline. I've tried to give them a little bit of an idea of what we're looking at this winter, and Mike has given us an idea of where they're at in the process."


    Got that? Clear as spillled milk.
    While most would be very surprised if Hamilton stayed in Texas, the fact they are talking should give Ranger fans some hope.

Atlanta Braves

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    According to MLB Trade Rumors Ben Nicholson-Smith, the Atlanta Braves are on the radar as a landing spot for Josh Hamilton.

    According to the Braves General Manager Frank Wren:

    “Obviously we’re aware of Josh being a free agent, being a guy that would fit the bill for us,” Wren said. “But we’re not a club that has a huge payroll, and one player taking a huge percentage of our payroll is not the strategy we generally take to field our club. We need to put as many quality players on the field as we can and when one player takes such a large percentage, that inhibits our ability to put a team together.” 

    Last week, Danny Knobler of CBS Sports had stated that Hamilton "intrigued" the Braves, but the origination was quiet on the topic until now.