There seems to be a bit of a disconnect between the Rangers front office and the multitude of both fans and media alike over the Josh Hamilton contract talks.
I'm not sure exactly at what point this notion the Rangers don't value Hamilton as much as they should started but it's beyond ridiculous.
Of course the Rangers value Hamilton and make no mistake about it, will step up and pay him a massive amount of money to continue scattering home runs into the stands in every stadium around baseball.
This has nothing to do with money.
The problem for the Rangers and Josh Hamilton going forward is the mine field of both on the field and off the field potential problems that can really hurt the Rangers financially in the future.
Then again, this entire situation can become relatively simple if the Rangers and Hamilton's agent sit down and work through the various options available with both parties making the necessary concessions; Josh in the length of the deal and protections for the club and the Rangers in paying him full market value over the entire contract.
There are a variety of options for the Rangers and Hamilton to discuss that will eventually become a contract extension keeping Hamilton in Arlington for next 6-8 years at least.
One thing needs to be made clear before the following options are considered, the Rangers will not give Hamilton the same type of contract Pujols got from the Angels or Prince Fielder got from the Tigers; if another team offers that Josh is gone.
Anyone that thinks the Rangers would match any contract another team is going to offer to Hamilton need to take a look at the Cliff Lee negotiations and see how the Rangers front office operates.
However, it doesn't have to reach that point.
Rangers offer Hamilton a 7 year, $180 million contract with club opt-outs after years 4, 5 and 6 if Hamilton doesn't play a specified number of games. This gives Hamilton the big deal both he and the players union are looking for, but also gives the Rangers much needed protection should he completely break down halfway through the contract.
Rangers offer Hamilton a 3 year, $90 million contract with three $25 million vesting option years that kick in if he plays a certain amount of games over the first three years of the contract. At $30 million a year for the first three seasons, Hamilton will be the highest paid player in baseball in the prime years of the contract and should he have no serious injury issues will have another $75 million left in years 4-6.
Rangers offer Hamilton a split contract of sorts. Similar to option two as the first three years would pay Hamilton $90 million, but instead of three separate vesting options, the Rangers would guarantee another three years for $75 million. Should those last three years kick in based on Hamilton staying healthy, his contract becomes 6 years, $165 million and the Rangers will have the protection they're looking for.
All of these options have a running theme, they all make Hamilton one of if not the top paid player in baseball for the entire contract, but also give the Rangers much needed protection in case Hamilton's body starts wearing down at an alarming rate.
The bottom-line in this is the Rangers are willing to make Hamilton the top paid player in baseball, this has never been about the money, but Hamilton has to recognize the risks the Rangers will take in locking him in with a long guaranteed contract and allow the club to protect itself.
The Rangers brass knows how important Hamilton is to the organization and its fan base; they will do all they can to keep him in Arlington, but the club will not sacrifice the future of the team.
If Hamilton allows the club to properly protect itself this extension gets done quickly, but if he continues to demand that mega-contract without allowing the Rangers to protect themselves then free agency awaits where all it takes is one team to offer that deal and steal Hamilton away from the Rangers.
The Rangers would be wise to make sure that dip into free agency never happens with Hamilton.