By Shannon Drayer
A day ago I called the Josh Hamilton situation fascinating. It is getting even more so, as is the entire logjam at the top of the free-agent market coming out of the winter meetings. It is late to have this many top-tier free agents, and starting pitchers for that matter, still out there. Zack Greinke is the holdup – and that is interesting in itself because who would have believed a week ago that he wasn't a slam dunk for the Dodgers with their new dollars? – but the longer this goes the more it looks like he will sign with the Rangers. Apparently his wife was a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. Who knew?
Back to Hamilton. My thought was Texas had played it perfectly in not extending or even negotiating an extension with him at the end of the season. In doing so they threw out more question marks about a player already packing significant baggage. This did not help his market in the least bit. He has had talks with the Mariners, Red Sox and perhaps other teams but he left Nashville without a deal. He appears content to wait on the Rangers, which, in my opinion, does not bode well for Mariners fans who would like to see him in Seattle.
There was news this week that Hamilton will give the Rangers a chance to match or better any offer he gets. Again, to me this sounds like someone who does not want to leave. The question now is whether the Rangers can afford to keep him. The thought has been that if they land Greinke, who is expected to sign for the new record for a right-handed starter, they couldn't possibly keep Hamilton. In my last post I said I don't buy that. I'm not the only one.
Evan Grant, the fantastic beat writer for the Dallas Morning News, believes that the Rangers could sign both Greinke and Hamilton. He also says trading for Justin Upton would not be out of the question.
"Despite lots of rumors that had the Rangers zig-zagging in different directions, it is becoming clear that that what appeared to be chaos, was, in fact, a broad attack on baseball. The Rangers want it all and have the currency – both in terms of real money and prospects – to make it happen."
Grant goes on to detail how this could happen in his story which you can read here if you are not squeamish. The "attack on baseball" is complicated and includes trading Michael Young and possibly Nelson Cruz. Nolan Ryan would have to have a little chat with ownership, too. There are obstacles but the Greinke and Hamilton part seem doable. Upton seems like more of a longshot with so much out of their hands, but who are we kidding here? Is he even necessary at this point?
The Mariners by no means have put all their eggs into the Josh Hamilton basket. There are other options, good options, but the big dominoes have got to fall before those fall into place.
All eyes are on Texas.