It's never fun to miss out on a desirable free agent, unless that desirable free agent winds up costing entirely too much money, which one might say about Josh Hamilton going to the Angels. It's never, I don't know, something else to miss out on a desirable free agent. But at least, when it's all over, the parties involved finally open up about how things were going. Jack Zduriencik refused to be candid about the Hamilton negotiations while they were going on. This is because Jack Zduriencik refuses to be candid about anything and actually frustrates telemarketers more than telemarketers frustrate him. But with Hamilton having signed elsewhere, Zduriencik was free to finally be honest and open on the radio earlier Thursday.
Here's a link to the interview. To tell the truth, there's not a whole lot in there we didn't already know, and there's certainly nothing earth-shattering. But it turns out I derive satisfaction from hearing Jack Zduriencik actually say things and it's illuminating to hear about how Hamilton wound up in Los Angeles, and how close he might've been to committing to Seattle.
When Zduriencik said the Mariners probably wouldn't be big players for Hamilton, he meant it, and he didn't have an ulterior motive. It was only after that that he consulted with ownership and was given the go-ahead to put on the full-court press. Which Zduriencik did, unless "full-court press" means "offer everything, literally everything the Mariners have in order to get this guy signed." Zduriencik made a real good offer, that the Angels simply exceeded.
It's interesting to hear that Hamilton requested from the Mariners more than he wound up signing for with the Angels. It's also interesting to hear that Hamilton was intrigued by the Mariners' present organizational situation. Yet he went to the Angels because (A) they offered a lot, and (B) they stand a good chance of winning in the short term. These are obvious factors. What free agents care about the most are money and winning now. Money, usually, more than the winning now. But free agents are also conscious of teams who might have better futures than recent pasts. The Mariners right now are not that unappealing. They're littered with young talent and they have the changing ballpark. It's not like the Mariners stood no chance of getting Hamilton to come. They just had to offset the Angels' better odds of winning with more money. They didn't. I'm just going to guess that, instead of a four-year contract with two vesting options, the Mariners would've had to guarantee all six years. I wouldn't have wanted them to do that.
Hamilton didn't call the Mariners to give them a chance to top the Angels' offer. He didn't call the Rangers, either, implying that he got what he wanted from the Angels and feels strongly about the opportunity he's been given. If the Angels hadn't gotten into the picture, Hamilton might be a Mariner today, but once they got involved it seems they were probably Hamilton's top choice. Which, as noted before, makes perfect sense.
Statements made on the radio are thoroughly considered before they're spoken, and Zduriencik has always been one to put a positive spin on things. But he emphasized the strength of the Mariners' offer, and he emphasized the ownership's willingness to pay for a big-time player if said big-time player fits what the Mariners seek. Josh Hamilton legitimately almost happened, and while I know that isn't enough for those of you who desperately wanted Josh Hamilton, I find it encouraging the way things went, and I find it encouraging also that Zduriencik held his offer where he did. Responsibility pays off in the long term, even if that's sometimes hard to imagine.