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December 04, 2012

What to make of reports of Josh Hamilton, Rangers getting closer

Only 24 hours ago, assuming Rangers general manager Jon Daniels wasn't playing coy, nothing new had developed with Josh Hamilton. Of course, a lot can happen in 24 hours.

Various outlets are reporting that the Rangers and Hamilton are making progress on a contract believed to be four years in length. The reporters making those claims are very plugged-in and have a deep roster of sources.

The problem with the reports is that they suggest another team could come back and beat the Rangers' top offer. That's a problem because it doesn't mesh with the negotiating strategy that Hamilton and the Rangers agreed upon in May. The Rangers were always going to get the first chance to match the best offer, and if their offer wasn't good enough, Hamilton would take the best offer.

If the reports are accurate and the Rangers and Hamilton are negotiating, it would suggest that Hamilton has settled upon his best offer and is giving the Rangers their chance.

Here's what is known: The Rangers feel like their chances of re-signing Hamilton have improved. There is a belief that if the top offer he receives is five years, the Rangers have a very good chance of signing him for three or four years at a huge annual average salary.

Hamilton likes Texas, so much so that he has purchased a multi-million-dollar ranch near Waco. He has a home in Westlake. His kids are enrolled at local private school. He has a big local support network. He and the Rangers know what they'll be getting, and it's accepted in the clubhouse. Much of that is because he helps them win more often than he causes them to lose.

The reports could very well be right, and the Rangers are taking their best chance to beat the best offer Hamilton has received. If so, the Hamilton sweepstakes, or at least the Rangers' place in them, could be determined before the winter meetings end Thursday.

-- Jeff Wilson

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