MLB Rumors: Are the Detroit Tigers Favorites to Land Josh Hamilton?

By Bryan Lutz

As we all know, current Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton will be a free agent this winter. Conventional wisdom tells us he will return to the Rangers, but we all thought Albert Pujols was going to return to his team as well. So let’s just assume the Rangers move on from Hamilton for a second, who will be the top bidder for the MVP’s talents? Obviously, there will be plenty MLB rumors surrounding Josh Hamilton, but I think the one team – outside of the Rangers – will make a strong push for his services. That team is the Detroit Tigers.

Unless the Tigers make a strong push these final two weeks, they will miss out on postseason play. The Tigers winning the American League Central was everyone’s favorite division lock before the season, so to say there season has been a disappointment would be a massive understatement. The Tigers’ owner, Mike Illitch, owns Little Caesar’s, has a eleventy billion dollars, isn’t afraid to make a splash, and might be a little ticked off about his team stinking in 2012; ergo, the Tigers make a lot of sense.

One may wonder how the Tigers can afford a Hamilton – especially with the contract they shelled out for Prince Fielder this past winter – but it’s quite simple. Detroit has about $44 million coming off the books after this year. They will save around $24 million when they say bye-bye to Jose Valverde, Anibal Sancez, and Delmon Young to free agency, and Jhonny Peralta has a team option that will likely be bought out for $500K. The only issues Detroit will have with their payroll next season will be the raises Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer, and Rick Porcello will receive from arbitration. Other than that, they will have around $20+ million to spend if they just want to match this year’s payroll.

The Tigers’ rotation is pretty set going into 2013 with Verlander-Scherzer-Porcello-Fister. It won’t be all that difficult to figure out a fifth starter option without breaking the bank. Their only glaring need is a corner outfielder, which is what Hamilton is better off being at this stage in his career.

If Hamilton does not re-up with Texas, do not be surprised if Illitich drops off bags of cash at Hamilton’s residence. Detroit needs him, can afford him, and having him in their lineup gives them a 3-6 that you can only dream about in video games.

Bryan is a featured writer for Rant Sports. Although he concentrates on MLB, you can see him covering a multitude of things across Rant Sports.

Follow Bryan on Twitter.

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