FORT WORTH, Texas - When the Texas Rangers 2012 holiday media luncheon at a hotel in dowtown Fort Worth began on Thursday afternoon, the questions for GM Jon Daniels and team president Nolan Ryan focused on where the team was in regards to free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton.
By the time the luncheon was done, roughly 70 minutes later, Josh Hamilton was a member of the Los Angeles Angels of Orange County. He agreed to a five-year, $125 million deal. Josh Hamilton may not work for NASA any time soon, but he was smart enough to sign this contract.
"I did want Josh back," Daniels said. "We hesitated in going long term. There is no sugar coating it. We lost some talented players from last year's club. We now have to go back and look at other options."
Although I don't blame either side in this move, selfishly I am bummed he left - he is a lot of fun to watch.
An offseason the Rangers supposedly were going to win now has them finally dumping Michael Young, who apparently was the devil, losing out on Zack Greinke in a bidding war with the Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles, whiffing on an attempted deal to land Arizona OF Justin Upton, and now seeing Hamilton leave as a free agent to a division rival.
The Rangers may have said they wanted Josh, but don't buy it. If the Rangers really wanted Josh back, as they said, they would have signed him.
What they wanted was Josh Hamilton on their own terms, which is their right. It was also Josh's right to say, "No thanks."
The fact he never gave the Rangers the chance to match the Angels' offer tells you that Josh really did not want to come back, either.
It's better for both to move on. The Rangers maximized their relationship with Josh, who in turn used his time in Texas to become a national baseball star. Josh should always be celebrated for what he did with the Rangers. There are no consecutive World Series appearances without his production.
The Rangers were tired of worrying about Josh, and the strain it created on the club.
As much as his talent and production were worth the worries, at some point you say, "We can find somebody else to hit home runs."
Josh was equally wise to bolt. He owed it to himself to maximize this opportunity. He can go somewhere else and get a fresh start, and perhaps not be a burden to his club in any way. And it's not as if he signed with the Marlins - the Angels are competitive and are going to be around it for years. The lineup with Hamilton, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols is stupid loaded.
What do the Rangers do now?
"I am sure Vegas may not like our chances right now," Daniels told me. "It's going to be the sum of the parts and I still like this team."
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