Jon Heyman has a piece up at CBS Sports about Josh Hamilton's free agency, and he calls the Hamilton free agent market the "mystery of the winter," with no teams known at this point to be willing to give him the seven-plus year deal he's seeking.
Heyman notes that Hamilton's agent, Mike Moye, is famously close-mouthed, and the Philadelphia Phillies, who are in the market for a centerfielder, have a history of striking swiftly and silently.
Still, the market for Hamilton appears no less murky now than it did two months ago, when the Rangers' season ended, which bodes well for those hoping Hamilton returns to Texas. The Rangers, by many accounts, seem willing to do a relatively short-term deal, and if the monster contract Hamilton is seeking doesn't surface, we could end up seeing Hamilton return on something like the 5 year, $110 million deal Evan Grant mentioned on Twitter this weekend.
I find myself going back and forth on this issue...on the one hand, my default belief is that free agents will end up signing deals that go longer and are for more per year than what the consensus expects. I keep thinking some team will end up, late in the offseason, breaking down and deciding to moneywhip Hamilton when their other options don't pan out.
But on the other hand, I've got a real hard time figuring out what team that might be. Heyman's article talks about both Milwaukee (a popular suggested destination) and Baltimore (the team I've been saying for a while I thought he'd end up with) not being willing to spend what it would take to land Hamilton. The Dodgers don't have room for him. The Nationals don't have room for him. The Yankees and Mets are keeping their powder dry.
Who else? Might Anaheim decide, if they lose out on Zack Greinke, to go after Hamilton and relegate Vernon Wells to the bench? Does Seattle decide to have Josh replace Ichiro as their marketable, superstar rightfielder?
I don't know. I keep thinking, some team will blink, someone will come out of the blue, swoop in, and give him a huge deal, like the Tigers did with Prince Fielder last year.
But the longer this goes, the more I'm starting to think that Hamilton will be back in 2013.
And after the way the season ended, the way he was booed in the Wild Card Game, it will be interesting to see how the fans react if he does return.