Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton is not high on my free agent priority list.
Not that that matters. No one is going to be making any Phillies-related decisions based on my priority list. The only list that really matters is Ruben Amaro’s, and no one has any real idea what he’s thinking.
Still, Josh Hamilton to the Phillies makes little sence and seems like a longshot.
He’ll turn 32 in May of next year. He’s had a slew of injuries/medical issues and missed time at various points over the last few years because of them. He has a history of drug and alcohol addiction. And he is a left-handed hitter that would make the Phillies extremely lefty-heavy once again.
But perhaps the biggest obstacle, coupled with his age, is the projected cost.
Most seem to think that Hamilton, who in 148 games this year hit .285/.354/.577 with a .930 OPS and 43 HRs, will sign a five or six-year deal worth well over $100-120 million a year.
Signing a 32-year-old player to that kind of deal would be a terribly shortsighted move.
But before we totally eliminate the possibility of Josh Hamilton as a Phillie in 2013, let’s keep an open mind for a second.
Suppose there are more teams worried about Hamilton’s history than anyone realizes. Suppose all the big spenders look at his age, his health, and his off-the-field problems and decide that a five or six year deal at more than $20 million a year is a bad idea.
Suppose teams are just totally scared by Hamilton’s past, no matter the price.
And suppose because of those league-wide fears, Hamilton’s price starts dropping.
At what price does he suddenly become a realistic option and, dare I say, a good deal for the Phillies?
The Phils are definitely going to sign a center fielder in the next couple months, and may also get a corner outfielder or two from the free agent market. Money is going to be spent. The question is who gets it, for how much, and for how long?
By now, everyone knows I’m on board the Angel Pagan and Nick Swisher bandwagon, although I would consider starting Brown in right field and engaging a platoon situation in left.
But Hamilton would have to be a consideration if his price comes down to three years at around $15 million per year.
A three-year, $45 million contract for one of the best sluggers in the American League, even at 33 years old with his injury history and off-the-field issues, wouldn’t be a bad gamble.
It would not be the preferred route, but it would at least be worth having a conversation.
Now, is this scenario likely? No, it isn’t. My guess is that someone will give Hamilton the contract he’s looking for, given his production since 2008.
Here’s the deal. Josh Hamilton, despite his many warts, is a really good power hitter. He swings at too many first pitches, he goes into month-long slumps, and you never know when the next mystery injury/illness is going to crop up. But he does hit a lot of homers, gets on base, and slugs the ball.
Someone’s probably going to pay him handsomely for that production. And if that’s true, the Phils shouldn’t be the one to do it.
But if the price does come down, the Phillies would be foolish to ignore him.