In the aftermath of yesterday's record-setting four home run game from Josh Hamilton, Jeff Passan reports that the Rangers have re-opened contract discussions with Hamilton. Passan summarizes where each side stands at this point:
Still, it's reasonable for Hamilton to seek the sort of money afforded players of his caliber. Kemp, 27, signed an eight-year, $160 million extension last offseason. A year before that, the Washington Nationals gave seven years and $126 million to outfielder Jayson Werth, who turned 32 less than two months after he signed, like Hamilton will.
The most important thing to remember about free agency: All it takes is one team. One team to covet his talent. One team to dream he stays healthy. One team to crave his star power. Just one to take a sledgehammer to sanity.
That won't be the Rangers, at least not midseason. Paying free agency prices now would be madness. They would bank on their inherent advantages to settle on a deal short enough to mitigate the injury questions and lucrative enough to convince Hamilton it's worth signing.
I've said before that I don't think the Rangers are willing to do a Werth-type deal. I still don't think they're willing to do that sort of deal. As Passan says, the Rangers aren't going to pay him as much as he could make in free agency. If Hamilton wants the biggest contract possible, a deal isn't getting done now.
Jon Heyman also has a piece that talks about what a reasonable deal for Hamilton would be, what he's going to be looking for (Heyman thinks he's going to want $200 million plus), and what the risks are.
For all that has happened so far this season, I don't think it should change anyone's mind about what a team should be willing to pay Hamilton. He's played at an extraordinarily high level for the first month of the season. No one disputes that Hamilton is capable of playing at extraordinarily high levels. When he's locked in, its hard to say anyone is better than him.
But we knew that. What we don't know is how healthy he'll be over the next five, six, seven, however many years a contract would cover, and how long he'll be able to sustain star-level production. Those are the issues that make giving him the type of contract he's seeking so worrisome.