I've got an unusually large pile of stuff mounting that I'm itching to write about, and though I probably shouldn't be taking the time at this horrifically early hour to whittle the pile down, there is something weighing heavily on my mind that I want to go ahead and throw out there this morning. Actually, this is an even bigger waste of time than I'd care to admit in the sense that this is going to be one of the dominant topics of conversation for the next 10-11 months, but let's go ahead and push forward on it anyway.
With Prince Fielder now removed from the pool of available long-term options, we're going to be inundated with an abundance of do-or-don't-sign-Josh-Hamilton discussion, and Gil LeBreton has gotten the ball rolling on that front this morning, with his suggestion being that Texas open up negotiations with Hamilton's camp at the four-year, $72 million point, and integrate bonuses into the deal that would pay Hamilton $125,000 per game beyond the 125-game mark -- in effect, paying him like a $17-18 million player through games 1-125, and then paying him like a $20 million player through games 126-162 if he should manage to remain healthy enough to activate those incentives.
And, ultimately, the idea here seems to boil down to paying Hamilton between $90-115 million over the life of a five-year deal, with the variance between those two endpoints again being the per-game incentives beyond game 125. The proposed structure itself seems reasonable, but the dollar amounts should make just about anyone skittish, and I don't know that I completely agree with LeBreton's statement that a deal of this kind "shouldn't cripple franchise finances over the next four or five seasons." Cripple? No, probably not. But let's not pretend that a whiff on this deal by the Rangers in terms of bang for the buck wouldn't be a material setback for the franchise.
There's something else from LeBreton's column that's bugging me a bit, as well:
In four seasons with the Rangers, he has been on the disabled list three times and twice has missed most of September with injuries. In four years, he's missed almost one entire season's worth of games.
There isn't a team in the majors that wouldn't factor that into any contract negotiations.
At the same time, however, Hamilton shouldn't have to be penalized for games that he may not miss. That's why both agent Moye and general manager Jon Daniels need to be creative with Hamilton's new contract.
When he plays and is healthy, there is nothing to suggest that Hamilton isn't one of baseball's best players. He should be paid accordingly -- $20 million per full season.
I appreciate the sentiment, but shouldn't the penalty incurred by Hamilton be implicit within the structure of the deal? In other words, shouldn't he be bearing the "penalty" -- which is a funny term, given the stakes we're talking about here -- for all of his missed time right from the get-go in the form of diminished guaranteed dollars/years? And, of course, even if Hamilton actually is one of baseball's best players "when he plays and is healthy" (which are two particularly huge qualifers in his case), to what extent can you feel confident in him being able to maintain that level of production onward into his declining years -- the years during which you'd be paying him as though he was performing like a superstar?
And with that somewhat disjointed series of thoughts out of the way, so begins life after Prince ... which wasn't really life after all because he ultimately landed elsewhere, so I guess that's actually death. Yeah. Welcome to death.