How ‘Bout Josh Hamilton On A 1-Year Deal?

Dude would have the Stadium crowd eating out of his hand. Courtesy of the AP

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod.  And yes, I know what I’m suggesting is borderline ludicrous.  I’m on vacation and it popped into my head one morning while I was in the shower, so I ran with it.)

Admittedly this is me thinking out loud on a painfully slow news Sunday in Yankeeland.  Let’s just get that out of the way upfront.  But the more I’ve put the pieces together in my head, the more it kinda, sorta makes a little bit of sense to me.  The Yankees have an open spot in their outfield, they could use a boost to the declining middle of their batting order, and a lot of the guys that make sense are either already signed or would never entertain the idea of a 1-year deal that is all the Yanks are likely to offer.  But they still do have the most money to spend, and could offer more on a 1-year deal than any other club out there.  So what if, and believe me, this is hy-po-thetical.  But what if the Yankees were to make a monster 1-year offer to Josh Hamilton?  How much would it take for Hamilton to seriously consider the offer and consider signing?

Hamilton is the hands down best position player available this offseason.  Like Robinson Cano, he’s reportedly seeking top-of-the-market dollars, 7 years at $25 million per to be exact.  Like Cano, Hamilton is every bit worth that price tag based on his production alone (3 straight seasons of wOBA above .365, 2 out of the 3 above .380, 16.9 total fWAR since 2010).  And like Cano will, Hamilton enters his big-money free agency year already across the 30-year-old threshold.  With 30-somethings like A-Rod and Mark Teixeira already seeing their productivity candle flicker a bit, and fellow 30-something Albert Pujols stumbling out of the gate in the first year of his new mega-deal, teams are going to be more wary than ever of handing out that kind of contract to Hamilton.  He comes with decidedly more risk than any of them did, because of his age, his spotty injury history, and the excess baggage that his past brings, be it issues with his eyesight, tobacco use, caffeine intake, or the possibility of a more serious relapse.

The chances of any team ponying up $175 mil for 7 years of Hamilton is slim to none, and maybe it’s just me but it doesn’t seem like there’s a whole lot of interest in him out there right now.  I don’t read ESPN Dallas regularly (because why would I?), but Hamilton’s name isn’t popping up in a lot of mainstream baseball talk on that network, and the chatter about him on MLBTR is relatively minor.  Baltimore was reported to be interested a few weeks ago but that has died down; the Mariners, Braves, and Phillies have all been connected but nothing serious; and the Fraud Sawx have already gone out of their way to temper the talk connecting them to Hamilton.  For a guy who’s still in his prime and talent-wise is probably the best player available in this year’s free agent pool, this seems a little strange.

Which brings me back to my original question.  If the market for Hamilton takes a dump, and teams aren’t too keen on the idea of signing him for 5 years let alone 7, is there an opportunity for the Yankees to slip in and make him a monster 1-year offer he can’t refuse?  Adding Hamilton to the middle of their order and their outfield makes them a better team in 2013 without any worry of negatively affecting the 2014 payroll, and Hamilton could use 2013 as an audition to convince teams that were hesitant to sign him that he isn’t as risky as they think.  If Hamilton were to stay healthy, play 140-150 games at the level he’s produced in the last 3 seasons, and do it under the glaring spotlight of the New York media without any problems, that would probably loosen up a few more checkbooks next offseason.

So what would it take?  1 year/$30 million?  32?  35?  How high would the Yankees have to go?  Would they even be willing to go?  It’s an incredible longshot, sure.  I think even in the worst case scenario a team will still make Hamilton a 3-4 year offer at or close to what he’s asking per year, and that team isn’t going to be New York.  But their outfield replacement options are already running thin, at least in terms of everyday guys who can exceed or come close to replicating what Swish gave them the last 4 years.  If the Hamilton market continues to stay quiet, isn’t this an option Cash and ownership should at least consider?

9 thoughts on “How ‘Bout Josh Hamilton On A 1-Year Deal?

  1. Frank

    Agree a long term contract (5 or more years) is unlikely, but I can easily see Hamilton getting a 3 year deal. I’d be shocked if the market got so bad he was only looking at 1 year offers.

  2. hawaii dave

    Who wouldn’t want Hamilton in their line up?

    It appears that players do get injured and thats why they want the longer contracts, in case half way through they suddenly break a foot or lose their swing.

    So if Hamilton were stupid enough or bold enough to sign a 1 year deal, sure, go ahead and sign him.

    He can bat 4th for me any time.

  3. New Jersey kid

    I’ve thought that same thing myself. I agree that would be in everyone’s best intrest. Think about it, the Yankees get what they need, and Hamilton gets another year to show all the critics he still has what it takes to get signed long term. One year, 32 1/2 million. Then in 2014, the Yankees give him the contract he deserves. Seems to be a win win to me. Good blog, I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s thought of that!!

    • Chris

      The Yankees wouldn’t be giving him a long term deal ever. The whole point of the 1 year deal would be to avoid adding any money to the 2014 budget, so it’d be a 1 year deal with the understanding he’d be walking away no matter what in 2014.

      I also don’t see it being in Hamilton’s interest in anyway to sign a 1 year deal. The thing preventing him from getting 7+ years is age, and more importantly his drug addiction past, neither of which is getting better after one year. He’s at the point in his career that this will be his last long term deal, he needs to get as many years as possible this offseason.

  4. Scout

    Although the Yankees have not stated a target for the 2013 budget, they surely still have a ceiling. And they still pay a luxury tax. These two considerations alone make it unlikely they would break the market on a one-year deal. Hamilton wants a big payday, yes, but also security. If Melky can get two years after his drug suspension, Hamilton will get three or more.

  5. Duh, Innings!

    As great a hitter as Hamilton is, he is not worth $30K / $750K shy of three times what Swisher made in 2012. He has a history of drug addiction and alcholism and New York is the last place on Earth a person with that history should be. What if the Yanks signed him to a year and $30M and he disappears one day never to return to the Yanks again like Bubba Trammell did in 2003? Yeah, the Yanks could place Hamilton on the restricted list and void the remainder of his contract if not all of it, but what good would that do besides save a ton of money? The Yanks would be without a RF and a big bat in the middle of their lineup.

    The Yanks should offer Swisher two years at $13.3M a year ($3.05M raise for 2013) for $26.6M total or basically what Torii Hunter got from the Tigers plus $600K so he’s paid more than Hunter and be done with it. I think he’d take that to remain a Yankee. He’s definitely worth two years and the Yanks thought he was good enough to be offered $13.3M for 2012 only so just double the offer. He can cross the bridge called 2015 when he gets to it.

    • OldYanksFan

      Are you dreaming that Swish would take 2/$27m? You must be on crack. He will easily get 5/$70m, and probably much more.

      A 3 year deal isn’t good for Hamilton. That puts him back on the market at 35 and unless he kills all 3 years, he will have trouble getting another big payday.

      I think it’s a great idea. I would go 1/$33m.
      The idea of playing in front of the NY crowd might appeal to him.

  6. fuster

    I’d sign him @ $25M per for one or two years (5 years @ $22) if the team had a trade in place for Granderson that would net some young, inexpensive talent

  7. Willballs

    It’s actually a great idea. Trade Grandy for two of a teams top five prospects and save his 15 million and use it for 1 year deal of Hamilton. I would be willing to pay Hamilton 35-40 mill for a 1 year rental.

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