Mariners Insider Blog

A few random, disjointed thoughts about the Josh Hamilton rumor

So there was this ...

Which featured a link to   this

Meanwhile, the Mariners are a new and sensical entry. "If the right bat's available, we're going to have to talk about it," Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said. "We're going to have several discussions with agents."

The Mariners played better than .500 ball over the last 2½ months of the season. But they need offensive help, especially at the corners.

"We have to be flexible," Zduriencik said.And later,  there was that.

And of course, these this’s and that’s – those? - led to plenty of words written in the last 36 hours. The best and most thoughtful of those words were from this guy and this guy.

If you are looking for some deep and meaningful analysis or some well proven thesis about the Mariners signing Josh Hamilton as a free agent, well, you won’t find it here. I can't write 3,000 words about a rumor that largely was based on the thoughts of other general managers. Well, I could, but it seems kind of pointless.

Are the Mariners interested in signing Hamilton? Of course, they are. They have to be. He’s a good hitter (.930 OPS, 140 wRC) and the Mariners are not a good hitting team (see 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012). Any and all general managers (even Jim Bowden and Bill Bavasi) would be interested. It’s due diligence. You explore every opportunity. You look at every possibility. Even if it makes no sense at that moment, you still listen, you still consider. Why? It’s your job.

Right now, the Mariners have money to spend this offseason. How much? No one is really certain. But they will have a payroll budget of more than $91 million this season. So there’s more money for Jack Zduriencik to spend than he’s had in past years.

Should he use a large chunk of those available dollars to sign Hamilton? Yes and no.

It all depends on what Hamilton and his agent - Michael Moye - are expecting. The rumor is that the initial numbers are 7 years for $175 million, which is just ludicrous. I honestly can’t think of any club giving him that much money for that many years. But then again, A-Rod will be making this over the next five years -- 2013: $28 million, 2014:$25 million, 2015: $21 million, 2016: $20 million, 2017: $20 million.

Yeah, life is fair.

Hamilton is 31 going on 32 years old. And not all of those years have been easy. The three years he was out of baseball and heavily abusing drugs and alcohol took their toll on his body. He is an old 32. And while that sounds like something the  odger scouts would say on that scene in Moneyball, there is merit. His body is breaking down at the rate of a 38-year-old.

He’s had injury issues every season. It’s something all players deal with. But there is a belief Hamilton is more susceptible to injury/sickness because of his previous off-the-field life.

This year was the first time he played more than 140 games in the last four seasons. And his second half production dropped off.

Even under the best of circumstances, it’s difficult not to believe that the wear and tear on Hamilton will diminish his performance and production. Under the rumored contract demands, you could be paying Hamilton $28 to $30 million (most teams backload big contracts) when he’s 39.

Because of Hamilton’s past, and because of the issues in the last month of the season, including indifferent performances in big games, it seems unlikely he will get those lofty contract demands. And that’s where the Mariners should be interested. A contract with less years – four with club option in the fifth year, or even five with a club option would be much more suitable. As for dollars? It should be no higher than $20 million a year. It just shouldn’t be.

There is no guarantee that Hamilton will sign with the highest bidder. Hey, it happens! I can’t think of any examples, but it does. From what Hamilton has said in the past, his comfort level with the organization and its willingness to work with him because of his circumstances is also important.

Could the Mariners simply be just another team being used as leverage? Oh yes, if Scott Boras was Hamilton’s agent, I’d almost guarantee it – especially with Heyman having the first tweet.

It’s not just a matter of whether the Mariners are seriously interested in Hamilton. It’s also if he’s serious about coming to Seattle. To be fair, a few of the other teams rumored to be interested in him might be more attractive if all the money is equal.

The winter meetings are just less than a month away and Hamilton probably won’t sign before then. So the debate and speculation and rumors will continue.

The fact that the Mariners are in on the discussion is good. They are also in on Nick Swisher too, which is a good thing.

While having money to spend is a good thing, the idea that the Mariners have to use all or most of those dollars to buy a bat in an weak free agent class seems foolish. They can acquire offense through trades and use that money to fill in for the talent that they gave up in the deal.

There is more than one way to build a team. And signing the best hitter available to an exorbitant and crippling deal might not be the best solution. The Mariners must improve their team offense. They have money to do it. But signing Josh Hamilton an enormous contract probably isn't the best way.