Time to empty out a notebook that is notably devoid of references to Alex Rodriguez and Miguel Tejada:
● MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan confirms that Texas will look to hammer out a deal with the initimable Josh Hamilton over the next several weeks, though it remains to be seen whether his unquestionably unique circumstances -- including, but not limited to, his age, career path and medical history -- and pre-arbitration status will act as impediments to advanced negotiations as both player and team attempt to strike a mutually beneficial long-term agreement.
The Rangers have historically expressed a great inclination towards contract extensions of this nature, and for good reason; Ian Kinsler reciprocated the organization's five-year, $22 million vote of confidence with a breakout offensive campaign in 2008 that only affirmed what a tremendous slam dunk his long-term signing was. The perceived (and actual) value of the young, cost-controlled major league asset is steadily on the rise across baseball, and given the current precarious state of the economy on a global scale, there is clearly also a lot to be said for the value of cost certainty right now.
Hamilton represents something of an enigma in this regard, however. Texas wields four more years of club control over the 2008 All-Star slugger, comprising his age-28 through age-31 seasons -- but how strong will the Rangers' motivation be to buy out one or two subsequent free-agent years, given his well-documented background and the inherent risk attached to it? One would suspect that a five-year deal with a sixth-year team option -- structurally similar to the Kinsler pact, albeit not necessarily similar financially -- might be in the cards, but then that idea is predicated on nothing more than thoughtful speculation on my part.
As with the Rangers' abortive signing of Ben Sheets, this is all about reconciling the risk with the potential rewards; unfortunately, that risk is somewhat considerable in Hamilton's case, and conflicting views of Hamilton's worth between his representatives and the organization might well forestall a long-term agreement for the time being. Just how much Hamilton values immediate financial security against the enticing prospect of a tremendously lucrative free-agent contract four years down the line will be instrumental in determining how far these talks progress.
And if, for some reason, the two sides can't find a comfortable middle ground ... well, not even Ian Kinsler -- whose contract extension was fervently discussed in February 2007 but ultimately delayed for another 12 months -- got it the first time around.
● Speaking of Sheets, the 30-year-old right-hander underwent successful surgery on his right elbow on Tuesday and intends to join a contender for the final two months of the regular season, effectively terminating the Rangers' pursuit of his services until at least next winter. According to FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, the two sides "briefly discussed a restructured deal with less guaranteed money," but talks were quickly severed once Sheets opted for surgery.
● Kevin Goldstein's newly published Top 100 prospects list features right-hander Neftali Feliz at No. 6, first baseman Justin Smoak at No. 22, left-hander Derek Holland at No. 40, right-hander Michael Main at No. 66, outfielder Engel Beltre at No. 68 and shortstop Elvis Andrus at No. 73.
One more day.
Quick Hits: According to manager Ron Washington, Jarrod Saltalamacchia will have the inside track on the starting catcher's job at the outset of spring training ... Southpaw Kason Gabbard successfully threw off a mound for the first time on Thursday after undergoing surgery to remove a bone spur in his left elbow last summer ... Texas officially announced the signings of right-hander Brendan Donnelly and outfielder Andruw Jones to minor league deals on Tuesday ... The Rangers will have five spring training games televised on FSN Southwest, beginning with the club's March 7th Saturday afternoon skirmish against the White Sox.