With just 11 days remaining before Opening Day festivities commence, the Texas Rangers have started the ball rolling in their quest to lock up All-Star outfielder Josh Hamilton to a long-term contract extension before arbitration eligibility further complicates the arduous task of fairly quantifying his value:
Exact details of the offer are unavailable but the two sides are believed to be looking at a deal in the 4-6 year range with possible options. The initial offer did not get an immediate positive reception.
"My agent [Michael Moye] and I were disappointed with [the Rangers'] offer," Hamilton said. "The negotiations have begun."
The Rangers' initial offer, reportedly tendered on Tuesday evening, was promptly rebuffed; it remains unclear which component of the offer was so unpalatable to Hamilton, but Texas reportedly wants to buy out "at least 1-3 years" of free agency as well. Odds of a guaranteed seven-year contract extension being hammered out? Not particularly great, since the length of that commitment likely wouldn't appeal to the Rangers and wouldn't offer much in the way of protection against the very real possibility of an age-33 or age-34 Hamilton physically breaking down.
Pre-arbitration contract extensions are advantageous to major league teams in that they supply cost certainty and long-range discounts that aren't usually obtainable via year-to-year salary arbitration proceedings; Hamilton's age and well-documented personal history presumably render these negotiations trickier than those the Rangers completed last February en route to locking up franchise second baseman Ian Kinsler, however. Additionally, the average salary for the 46 players that exchanged salary figures in 2009 climbed 6.08 percent from the average salary for the 48 players that exchanged salary figures in 2008 (from $2,839,063 to $3,011,638), reflecting the increasing costs of retaining arbitration-eligible talent within the industry.