Winter Meetings 2012: Seattle Mariners Close to Signing Josh Hamilton

By Michael Terrill
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Mariners are “very close” to making the biggest splash at the 2012 MLB winter meetings by signing free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton.

Apparently, the only way the Mariners do not sign Hamilton at this point is if the Texas Rangers give up on free-agent starter Zack Greinke and put all their resources towards the outfielder. Seattle was never supposed to be a contender for Hamilton and led many people to believe on the first day of the winter meetings that they were out. However, things have clearly changed drastically.

People may have already forgotten but the Mariners were very big on first baseman Prince Fielder last year at the winter meetings in which many believed he would sign with the west coast team. Obviously, the Detroit Tigers drove the price up to a place where every other team interested backed away quickly.

Seattle appears to have the inside track on Hamilton but the 31-year-old’s agent has told Texas that they will have the opportunity to match any offer the lefty slugger receives. With this as an option, it could be very hard for the Mariners to pull ahead, especially if Hamilton’s heart is still with the Rangers.

The problem Texas is facing is that they are in a deep bidding war with the Los Angeles Dodgers for Greinke. It appears the Rangers will not quit on the right-hander because of his great potential to be a solid ace and the fact that he is only 29 years old and about to enter his prime. Not to mention, Texas feels Hamilton quit on them last season down the stretch, which does not sit well with people inside the organization.

The Rangers are also in the mix of a four-team blockbuster trade in which they have the possibility of landing right fielder Justin Upton. If Texas is able to land Greinke, Upton or both players for that matter, then Hamilton is definitely out even if he is willing to allow the team to match his offer.

That means the Mariners would then have a great opportunity to sign the superstar who is loaded with talent, potential and problems, without anyone standing in their way. If Seattle has the chance to pull the trigger on the deal then they really should because Hamilton is certainly a gamble worth taking for a Mariners team that has not been to the postseason since 2001.

Michael is a MLB and NBA Featured Writer for Rant Sports, but covers topics for various teams in baseball, basketball, and football. Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelTerrill and on Facebook.

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