Texas Rangers All-Star outfielder Josh Hamilton is set to hit free agency this upcoming offseason, and there will be a heavy bidding for his services.
Hamilton has had his share of off-the-field problems but he seems to have settled down, and he’s still young enough that he should be in the market for a contract of at least six years or so at over $20 million per season. Every team that can afford Hamilton will be taking a look at him but the following five teams stand out as potential suitors.
GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. has never been afraid to spend money, and that has been evident during the past several years, as he’s paid Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard, and Cole Hamels each a $100-plus million deal.
The Philadelphia Phillies traded away Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence right before the trade deadline, which does free up some money management would have used to sign those players. Hamilton will likely command a deal of at least six years worth around $140 or more million, but the Phillies are a win-now team in desperate need of outfielders.
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox traded away Kevin Youkilis, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Josh Beckett this season, and Daisuke Matsuzaka’s contract expires this offseason, which frees up a ton of money for management to use to sign Hamilton.
There’s a gaping hole in left field with Crawford gone, and while the team has been in contract talks with Cody Ross on a multi-year extension, they will gladly take Hamilton over Ross if he will help them win now. And the Red Sox are always trying to keep up with the New York Yankees, so look for the Red Sox to be heavily involved in contract negotiations with Hamilton.
Maybe the Texas Rangers will re-sign Hamilton this offseason, as he is the best player on their team and one of the top five hitters in the game.
Hamilton has been a perennial MVP candidate for the Rangers since they traded for him before 2008, and he’s having another phenomenal season in 2012. Hamilton has helped the Rangers to consecutive World Series, and the team is right in the mix for a third straight American League pennant in October. If they win a championship, I don’t think they will let Hamilton walk.
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees are always interested in whichever big-name free agent player is set to hit the market, and right fielder Nick Swisher is probably going to leave in free agency. Swisher has said he wants a deal similar to what Jayson Werth got from the Washington Nationals (seven years, $126 million), and there’s absolutely no way Swisher deserves anything close to that.
Hamilton however does deserve that kind of money, and the Yankees would have a terrific outfield with Hamilton, Curtis Granderson, and Brett Gardner.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Can you imagine what this team would be like with Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Mark Trumbo, and Josh Hamilton in the same lineup?
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will let Torii Hunter walk in free agency this offseason and if they can find a way to trade center fielder Peter Bourjos and designated hitter Kendrys Morales, they can play Hamilton, Trout, and Wells in the outfield, plus Trumbo as the DH.
That would be a ridiculous lineup, and it would take some moving around of some players to pull that off, but the idea of taking Hamilton away from their division rivals has to be intriguing.