So on that thought, the Rangers are wisely trying to sign Hamilton to a long term deal. Even though the Rangers control Hamilton's rights until 2012, his price tag is likely to go sky high in the upcoming seasons thanks to arbitration. The Rangers would probably be saving themselves money in the long run by locking up Hamilton to a team friendly and cheaper contract. Buying out all of Hamilton's arbitration years and one or two of his free agent seasons could turn into a major coup for the Rangers down the road.
However, it does not look like things got off to a rockin' start between the Rangers and Hamilton. After the Rangers made their initial proposal to Hamilton today, Hamilton was not pleased with the offer.
Center fielder Josh Hamilton said he received the first offer on a contract extension from the Rangers on Tuesday night, and he and agent Mike Moye did not jump on it.
"My agent and I were disappointed with their offer," Hamilton said. "The negotiations have begun."
My guess is that Hamilton was expecting a contract somewhere in the range of Nick Markakis (6 years/$66 million), but instead, wound up with an offer in between what Ian Kinsler (5 years/$22 million) and Kevin Youkilis (4 years/$40 million) received. Hamilton is in quite a strange spot because he has only one full season as a starter under his belt and the Rangers control his rights for so long.
And also remember that there is still risk involved in signing Hamilton. He is still a recovering drug addict and even though Hamilton is a fantastic story, his past drug use must be taken into account when the Rangers talk contract with his agent. In addition, there is no telling what kind of impact his drug use will have on his body long term, so there is always the risk of his body breaking down. The Rangers must be careful not to offer everything but the kitchen sink to Hamilton in extension talks.
My guess is that these two sides eventually come to terms on a deal, hopefully sooner rather than later. By all accounts, Hamilton loves it in Texas and the Rangers want to build around Hamilton. As for terms of the deal, I'll take two stabs at this one.
-4 years/$34 million with a fifth year team option
-5 years/$45 million
This type of deal seems fair for both sides. Hamilton would get quite a bit of loot, while the Rangers would lock up their best player at a very good price. The deal should be somewhere in the 4-6 year range this way the Rangers buy out at least one of Hamilton's free agent seasons.
The Rangers would be smart to get Hamilton locked up now because once Hamilton reaches arbitration, the sky will truly be the limit. Hamilton is a once in a lifetime talent and eventually, he will be paid like it. If he puts up big numbers again in 2009, there is a chance Hamilton could reach $10 million in his first go around in arbitration.