|Hamilton stands as the most talented player on the market yet it's unknown what kind of interest he would draw. (Getty)|
There won't be any quick deal for star free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton in Texas. The Rangers aren't prepared to present the large deal Hamilton is believed to seek and will instead let him listen to other teams before possibly coming back to them.
Rangers people see little point in making an offer they know he won't accept now, say people familiar with their thinking. They'd be happy to sign him back, but apparently only at their price and contract length.
His chance to stay in Texas may depend on his willingness to accept a lower deal with the team and city where his career took off. The Rangers originally acquired him from the Reds for Edinson Volquez and a reliever, but his star soared in Texas -- until a very rough 2012 finish for him and his talented team.
Not much has come out about their previous talks, but he is believed to have been seeking a contract befitting an "elite'' player, which isn't surprising considering his stats and accomplishments. And while Hamilton has said he'd give the Rangers a chance to match any offer he receives, if he's offered a long deal for huge money, they aren't expected to to be in the conversation.
The Rangers would still like to keep the ultra-talented Hamilton, who had 42 home runs and 128 RBIs despite a variety of injuries and ailments this year, but others say they'd have a hard time seeing the Rangers go much beyond four years. And Texas has not historically been one of the teams willing to hand out extremely long deals. They've kept the offers and deals to their biggest stars to six years, sometimes with a team option.
Some of the biggest market teams, including the Yankees and Red Sox, aren't expected to play for him, and the nouveau riche Dodgers appear to be well-stocked in the outfield, but he stands out as by far the most talented everyday player on the market.
Hamilton, 31, and the Rangers haven't talked for months, and it's very likely their next meaningful conversation will come after he checks out his market. As an extreme talent with a history of ailments and addiction, his market may be one of the most unpredictable in years. Maybe one of the most unpredictable markets for a star ever.
One competing exec suggested at least half-seriously that he could see Hamilton getting as much as nine years, or as little as two. If it's on the lower end of the scale, the Rangers will be back in touch. If not, he's very likely about to become an ex-Ranger.