ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Texas Rangers president Nolan Ryan is waiting like so many others to see what the market will be for free agent slugger Josh Hamilton
Ryan said Wednesday that because of that uncertainty he doesn't have a gut feeling on whether Hamilton will return to Texas next season.
"You don't know who the players in the market are going to be, and what that market is going to be. I think people will have a better feel after this week," Ryan said, referring to this GM meetings that are taking place in California. "I think people will have a better feel for what peoples' level of interest is."
The biggest uncertainty appears how long of a contract Hamilton could get, not how much money the 2010 AL MVP could make each season.
"I think there's this perception that we don't want Josh back. That's not accurate. I'd love to have Josh back. It's got to work for both sides," general manager Jon Daniels said at the meetings in Indian Wells. "Whether he ends up here or not, I feel like some need to defend him right now that everyone's kind of throwing out the negatives with him. The reality is like this guy's been a stud for this franchise for the last five years and done some things that have enabled us to reach levels we hadn't previously reached."
Without giving any numbers himself, Ryan is sure everybody could probably make a "reasonable guess" on the per-annual salary Hamilton will get. The 31-year-old slugger hit a career-high 43 home runs with 128 RBIs in 148 games this year. He has hit .304 with 161 homers in his six major league seasons, the last five with the Rangers.
"Are you looking at a Fielder deal, as far as nine years. Are you looking at a (10-year) Pujols deal, Or are you looking at seven years," Ryan said. "That's the question that probably isn't answered yet, that people probably don't have a feel for, the length of the contract."
Unique in Hamilton's case is his troubled past, and drug and alcohol addictions that nearly derailed the No. 1 pick of the 1999 draft from ever getting to the major leagues. He has also dealt with a variety of injuries, though he is one of baseball's best players when healthy.
The Rangers made a $13.3 million qualifying offer last week to Hamilton, a move to ensure draft-pick compensation if he signs with another team. They know Hamilton will make more than that. The protective move didn't change the team's approach with the outfielder.