Seattle Mariners Not Uninterested In Josh Hamilton

he has good taste in friends - Otto Greule Jr

First off, apologies for my brief pseudo-absence, but there were legitimate reasons for that. There were not zero reasons for my being sort of absent for a few days. This is in part because there are legitimate reasons for everything. "Everything happens for a reason," says the attempted-intellectual 19-year-old college sophomore. Well no shit, pinhead. Way to be aware of sequences. Now, baseball!

Those rumors from a little while back that linked the Seattle Mariners to talented free-agent outfielder and recovering drug addict Josh Hamilton? Today is Wednesday, November 14, and those rumors aren't yet dead. And here I thought we would've seen Hamilton make a decision by now. What's taking him so long? Torii Hunter already made a decision. Is Josh Hamilton worse at making decisions than Torii Hunter? Actually, scratch that, I guess we know full well Josh Hamilton is worse at making decisions than Torii Hunter. Like way way worse. Writes Jon Heyman:

The Seattle Mariners are weighing a run at superstar outfielder Josh Hamilton, team president Chuck Armstrong confirmed. Though he cautioned that they are still formulating their free-agency plans.

"[GM Jack Zduriencik] is looking at it," Armstrong said. "We are going to have more money to spend. And we do need offense."

Here are the things we can presume to be facts:

  • the Mariners will have money to spend
  • the Mariners could use offense
  • the Mariners will consider Josh Hamilton as a potential free-agent signing
  • the Mariners don't yet know exactly what they're going to do

What the Mariners haven't done is outright reject the suggestion that they might go after Hamilton in the market. Even if they were to reject that suggestion publicly, that wouldn't necessarily mean anything privately. But anyway, this is another way of saying "the Seattle Mariners haven't ruled out a pursuit of Josh Hamilton." The Mariners have to think about it first, and the Mariners have to get an idea of the market first, and just in case you haven't gotten way ahead of me, this is hardly relevant news. Just about every single team in baseball has thought about Josh Hamilton, or will think about Josh Hamilton. All of those teams will arrive at their own evaluations. According to those evaluations, all of those teams will be open to signing Josh Hamilton if the price is right. For just about all of those teams, the price won't be right, because they'll be concerned about all of the risk. Hamilton is 31, delicate, ultra-aggressive, and of questionable mind. All it's going to take are one or two teams who aren't that worried. That team or those teams might not necessarily be right. But that's where Hamilton will presumably go.

Now, obviously, the Mariners would make for a better fit than many. The Mariners have a need, and the Mariners have the money, and not every team has a need or the money. Hamilton fits the profile of what the Mariners are looking for ("good baseball players"), and they'll think about him long and hard. I expect that the Mariners will enter the pursuit, if the pursuit hasn't already begun. The Mariners, I'm guessing, will make some sort of effort to get Hamilton signed. But the Mariners also made some sort of effort to get Prince Fielder signed, and they made some sort of effort to get Alex Rodriguez signed. What we don't know is whether the Mariners will make enough of an effort, and I can't imagine the Mariners themselves know how this is going to play out. As with Fielder, they'll be in there until or unless the terms start to make them uncomfortable. That could happen quickly. Or not quickly! This time of year, it is absolutely critical to recognize uses of the word "could".

I don't think the Mariners will sign Josh Hamilton by being the most aggressive suitor. I think they could sign Josh Hamilton by being the least cautious suitor, if that makes sense, and if you can see the difference. I can't see the Mariners giving Hamilton seven years, so their chances might come down to no one being willing to give him six or seven years. No one giving him the contract that he allegedly wants. I have no insight. Hamilton's market is as unknown as the contents of that box. "What box?" you ask. Exactly.

This is where one has to point out that the Texas Rangers, publicly, seem to be distancing themselves from Hamilton. Reports suggest the Rangers are interested in re-signing Hamilton only if he'd come with a shorter-term commitment. Again, we don't know what that actually means, if that actually means anything, but if the Rangers don't much feel like giving Hamilton four or five or six or seven years, and if the Rangers know Hamilton better than anyone else, then that's a data point, that's something one needs to consider. It's not like the Rangers are a rebuilding organization -- their window is wide open, right now, and Hamilton is a superstar, right now. Hamilton has had a lot of success with Texas. Most expect him to leave Texas without the Rangers offering a competitive contract. That's meaningful, in the way that the Angels dumping Dan Haren is meaningful. On paper, Haren looks like a pretty good gamble. Yet it gives one pause that the Angels were so very willing to let him go away.

It's not that individual teams are always right about their own players, but they're the most informed about their own players, and so it matters what they think. Haren's 2013 projection should probably be reduced a little bit, on account of the Angels' behavior. Hamilton's 2013+ projections should probably be reduced a little bit, on account of the Rangers' reported behavior. On its own that isn't a reason to stay away from Josh Hamilton, but I do believe it to be one of many factors.

The Seattle Mariners and Josh Hamilton: not not a match. Stay tuned! Or, no, don't stay tuned, go outside. Check in only every so often. News won't stop happening just because you decided to shut down your computer and go for a walk.

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