CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports that he believes the Mariners might be interested in signing Rangers free agent Josh Hamilton. It's a pretty vague statement/article. Heyman has a source who's familiar with the way the M's think. That source believes the M's may enter the Hamilton sweepstakes.
No offense to Heyman and his source, but my friends familiar with my thinking believe I may ask Scarlett Johansson out on a date. Of course, I'd have to be in the same city, run in the same circles, and hope she takes pity on me. It's possible, but unlikely. Like me, the M's have a few obstacles to overcome. Seattle's recent history of losing, a pitcher friendly park, and a shrinking payroll, of late. All three make it a tough sell to attract top hitters in free agency.
Here's where Texas stands with him. They gave the 2010 AL MVP a qualifying offer of 1-year, $13.3 million. He's expected to decline the offer by November 9th. That gives the Rangers a compensatory draft pick if Hamilton bolts via free agency.
The outfielder reportedly wants a 7-year deal worth $175 million. But Seattle hasn't doled out that kind of money for a big bat since signing free agents Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson for a reported $114 million for the 2005 season. Pitcher Carlos Silva stole the last big free agent contract. Silva worked Seattle for a 4-year deal worth $48 million in December of 2007. We all know how that worked out.
According to Geoff Baker at the Seattle Times, The M's do have room to spend money. Before the Hisashi Iwakuma deal (2 years, $14 million) last week, the Mariners were $23 million under their 2012 payroll of $85 million. Baker reports that GM Jack Zduriencik has not been told to shrink payroll and he could go over that number if the right deal comes around.
But is Josh Hamilton worth the big payday? In 2012, he hit .285 with 43 HR's and 128 RBI over 148 games. The big numbers came thanks to a hitter friendly park. On the other end of the spectrum, Hamilton's stats at Safeco are almost Sexson-like. Over six season, the 2010 batting champion gathered 28 hits over 125 at-bats at the spacious Safeco Field. That's a paltry .224 average. Of course, the M's are moving in the fences for 2013, but is it enough?
We all know about Hamilton's past of drug abuse, which has got to make any team wary. The M's should be concerned about his age. The 5-time All-Star turns 32 in May. He's battled injuries over six seasons in the majors. He's only averaging 122 games per season. So signing him to a long term deal, much less seven years, is a gamble.
But is it a gamble they have to take? Attendance has dropped 50% in past decade. Ichiro is gone. So it's looking like the M's need to make a splash. And in doing so, they can weaken an AL West foe.
Sign Hamilton and throw him in left or right field. Don't put him in center where he has a greater chance to get hurt. Sign Hamliton and hope the newly moved-in-fences help him hit at Safeco. Sign Hamilton to give Ackley, Seager, Smoak, and others protection in the lineup. Seattle's bats would see better pitches to avoid Hamilton. Sign Hamilton for the fact it may give me hope that I can date ScarJo. Let's give hope to the fans and me.