Why Josh Hamilton Should be Traded

Josh Hamilton will play most of the 2011 season at age 31. He’s not your normal 31 year old though. It’s probable that he is heading for a sharp decline; and he is not the type of player you can realistically see playing up until he’s 40.

Let’s not beat around the bush though, Hamilton’s drug abuse in the early-prime years of his career will likely chop some of the late-prime years of his career. When does the late prime start for Josh Hamilton? He will be looking for a new deal going into his age 32 season. How many years? How many dollars? Can he be provide the value of what his name and pedigree will command on an open market?

The Rangers aren’t likely to negotiate a deal during the season. They have multiple other extension candidates: Mike Napoli, Elvis Andrus and possibly Nelson Cruz. After extending Hamilton just last year, it doesn’t seem to be a high priority of the front office to once again settle Hamilton’s contract situation. If no contract is reached before opening day then Josh Hamilton is staring down free agency after the 2012 season.

Hamilton has averaged 125 games per season in a Ranger uniform. There’s nothing to lead me to believe that that number will rise as Josh grows older. It does seem possible that Josh would take somewhat of a discount to continue playing with a team and city he’s familiar with. Would he take a 23% discount though, the amount of games his misses on average? No, that’s not the way it works. Some team will pay for a 162 games of Josh Hamilton, guaranteed (hopefully not the Rangers). Players are always paid on potential not reality. Hamilton has the potential to be a perennial MVP candidate, and break records and shock and amaze fans every night. Reality: this happens three quarters of the time, and likely even less as Josh approaches a higher salary and his mid 30s.

All signs point to trade Josh Hamilton. In the next four months.

Josh should be traded before next season because you’re not going to deal with the drama of trading your best hitter, while trying to defend your AL title. Or dealing with your best hitter on the DL while you try to defend your AL title. Or you don’t want to deal with having to overpay him in free agency. Or you don’t want to deal with collecting just compensation picks for Josh. You want Josh Hamilton performing at a high level at a reasonable price; and since Hamilton’s production and price tag will become very cloudy very soon, why not cash in now?

I understand this is a difficult move because of the weight Hamilton carries in the clubhouse, in the line-up and in the community. Hold that thought. There’s another Ranger that comes to mind that was great in the clubhouse, line-up and community and the Rangers disregarded reality and went with loyalty and potential. Michael Young, five-years $80 million deal. Don’t make the same mistake twice, let the egg be on someone else’s face, Rangers. Hamilton’s past is no secret, so the idea of him getting a five year deal is laughable, or is it? Seven years and $126 million for Jayson Werth from the Washington Nationals is very silly, but that’s what happens in free agency.

The market is ripe with teams that are punch less that are overstocked with pitching. I would expect the Rangers to seek top of the rotation starters if they were willing to doing something so unconventional and unpopular. The Giants, A’s, Padres, Rays, Mariners, Nationals and Braves all fit this category of teams needing offense. Tim Lincecum, Gio Gonzalez, Matt Latos, James Shields, Felix Hernandez, Jordan Zimmermann, Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson are names the Rangers could realistically shoot for if they’re going to put Josh Hamilton on the table.

This was never intended to be an attack on Josh Hamilton. He’s an amazing player, one of the best the Rangers have ever had. I just feel that when it comes to decision time, Josh will get a huge deal that could turn to be another millstone around the Rangers neck. Let the record state, that I was the first to say “trade Josh Hamilton“, even before his 6 year $110 million deal after the 2012 season.

Dan Allsup

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