Understatement: Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton did not disappoint his employers on Tuesday night.
Indeed, on the strength of Hamilton's outstanding start to the season (he's hitting .406/.458/.840 on the year and on pace for, oh, 76 homers and 194 RBI) comes confirmation from ESPN's Jim Bowden that Hamilton and the Rangers are talking contract extension. While not exactly the breaking news it's being protrayed as (MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan writes that, "The Rangers have been talking with Hamilton's Mike Moye regularly and have been for months"), negotiations between the two sides will no doubt receive more attention after Tuesday night's bit of history.
You'll recall that the two sides had been engaged in discussions at the time of Hamilton's February relapse. Since then, however, there's been little discernible movement. Of course, a start like this combined with team success could change things.
Pegging the market for the 30-year-old Hamilton, who's eligible for free agency after this season, is of course tricky business. His off-field issues will no doubt be baked into any negotiations, but the real concern may be the fact that, in his relatively brief career, he's lost more than 200 games to injury and been on the disabled list five times. Still, as CBSSports.com Insider Danny Knobler writes, the Rangers really don't have much of a choice: you simply don't let a talent and a draw like Hamilton walk. That's especially the case since the Rangers are squarely in "win now" mode.
Hamilton has previously said he's not inclined to grant any hometown discounts or enter into negotiations in a state of gratitude, and he's right to take that stance -- it's business, not pleasure, on both sides. But for a player of Hamilton's burdens, familiarity and comfort level surely matter.
In any case, Hamilton's efforts on Tuesday night serve as a timely reminder of his rare abilities and his value to the two-time reigning AL champs.
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