The Orioles + Josh Hamilton = ?
By now, you’ve heard the rumors linking the Orioles to superstar free agent OF Josh Hamilton. On paper, it makes sense. Hamilton provides power production from left field that the Orioles desperately need. From the moment he was drafted by the Rays, all the talent evaluators said he’d be a “special player”. It may be years later than what was originally forecasted, but Hamilton certainly evolved into all of that and more. Yes, there have been the off the field issues; plus when he “fell off the wagon”, but look at the statistics. The skills that Hamilton possesses are up there with the best in baseball. All that sounds great, as do his stats, but I advise the Orioles to stay away from this big ticket free agent.
Hamilton has only played over 150 games once in his major league career. He is an inherent injury risk and looked at as a very fragile player, both physically and mentally. In Texas for a few years, he had his own personal coach to help keep him out of trouble. One other point, Hamilton crumbled as the 2012 season was closing out. He single-handedly cost the Rangers both the division title in the AL West and the Wild Card game against the Orioles. He was a strikeout victim two times in the Wild Card game. Is Josh Hamilton really worth the 7-year $175MM investment that he is searching for? He wants to be on par with Albert Pujols with $25MM annually, but what a gamble that would be. It is not like we are talking about a 24 year old player here. Hamilton is at his peak, starting his downturn soon. The Orioles do NOT need to be handcuffed financially with that kind of commitment for 7 years.
I was utterly shocked to hear that the Orioles were pursuing Hamilton. We do not have that kind of money to wrap up in one player, let alone one with as much baggage as Hamilton. That would go against the whole team philosophy for free agency. If the asking price for the star were to fall to say, 3-years $75MM, then the Orioles should enter the bidding. Otherwise, please do the smart thing and avoid at all costs. We have great team and clubhouse chemistry with no need to change it. Texas made it clear to Hamilton and his representation that they would go no higher than 3 years. I agree to a point where I would even include a 4th year option if certain incentives are reached related to games played or health. It’s a tough call since he is far and away the BEST offensive player on the free agent market. He excels at all facets of the game. I was even in attendance at his 4 home run game versus the Orioles. It was an AMAZING power display.
My final thoughts; I just cannot under any circumstances see Peter Angelos putting up the money and the green light for Dan Duquette to go and sign Josh Hamilton. I would love to have him on the Orioles, but the money and risk with him is just not worth it. We could sign four players for that money and while we may not get the same production, it may come close. I hope that this is nothing more than a glorified rumor and that we will not move forward and pursue him. I’d love to hear your opinions and comments about the Hamilton possibility. Until next time, keep it here at The MSB for your local sports updates!