If you were starting a fantasy baseball today, most likely Josh Hamilton would be atop your list or in the top tier as a must have on your roster. He is one of the best players in baseball and is proving that with another MVP- type season, but will his past prevent him from being paid like a top player when he hits the free agent market this offseason.
Albert Pujols came into last offseason as arguably the best player in the game and he was able to receive a 10-year deal worth $240 million. Dodgers’ Matt Kemp followed that contract with a 8-year deal, worth $160 million, and Prince Fielder received a nine-year contract at $214 million. Both Kemp and Fielder are younger than Hamilton at 28 years old, but Pujols is actually a year older at age 32.
Out of these three exceptional players, Hamilton is closely matched with Kemp than Pujols and Fielder because of his speed, rifle of an arm and fielding qualities. As May 27, Hamilton is on-pace to record around 65 home runs because the baseball season is already just over one-fourth complete and he has already hit 20 home runs.
Hypothetically let’s say Hamilton finishes this season with 60 home runs and 170 RBIs with an above .330 batting average because he is currently hitting .385 and history has shown that most players can not keep that type of average all season. Those type of statistics are extraordinary coming in the post-steroid era so any player would receive at least a $20-plus million, long term deal, similar to the type of contract Kemp received, but in this Hamilton’s relapse this offseason could cost him money and years on a guaranteed contract.
Just last week, Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan said he expects Hamilton to test the free agent market but can you let the best player just walk. Beat writers for the Rangers are saying the Rangers should be expected to pay 180-plus million to keep the best talent in baseball and you do not let immense talent walk. The Rangers can not let him walk because despite having the best overall lineup, the Rangers will still feel the consequences of letting Hamilton leave, but if I was Ryan I would consider a 5-year deal, worth $100 million with a club option for the sixth year.
My explanation comes more about Hamilton’s nagging injuries than about his recent relapse. His past will not help his counter negotiations, but his injuries will play more of a role on the reason why his contract will not compare to Pujols, Kemp, or Fielder’s contracts. Only time will tell on how the Rangers proceed, but could be difficult letting him walk, but the same was said last season before the Cardinals decided to not sign Pujols.