In true Ruben Amaro fashion, the Phillies GM has apparently “checked in” on Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. Amaro has been known to make a huge splash in MLB’s free-agent market, but the idea of Hamilton playing outfield at Citizens Bank Park still seems like a far-fetched idea. Hamilton is looking for a deal longer than five years, which may be longer than the Phillies are ready to commit to a 31-year-old substance abuser who could relapse at any time.
Hamilton should not be condemned for what has happened in the past. He has come back from a place where many people give in to the addiction, but a deal with Hamilton needs to be looked at from every angle; and in Hamilton’s case, the risk may outweigh the reward. The Rangers, who have a great idea of Hamilton’s wear and tear, and expectations of how his body will hold up, plan to offer him a max contract of three years. Does that indicate budget issues or that the Rangers think his body may not last the duration of a long-term contract? If Amaro bites on a five-year deal, and Hamilton breaks down along the way, the Phillies could be strapped for cash in four or five years.
Another negative is the Phillies’ lineup is lefty heavy already. Bringing in Hamilton to bat between Chase Utley and Ryan Howard would not take away the competition’s blue-print of going to the lefty arm late in games to face the core of the order. His addition may actually make late-game comebacks even harder to come by than they currently are.
On the other hand, Hamilton is a star. He has finished in the top 25 in MVP voting for the past three years. He is a career .300 hitter who has averaged 33 home runs over the last three years. If he can stay clean off of the field and continue to produce, then the Phillies would be insane not to bring him to their lunchbox-size ballpark.
Amaro should definitely look long and hard at bringing in Hamilton. He could be the key to making another run in 2013, but hopefully he doesn’t make the deal just to bring in a big name. Sometimes it’s best to say no (as Hamilton has learned in life). In this case, Amaro may need to say yes one more time to another name and sign the market’s latest star in his early 30s. He could be the missing piece for Philly, and that in itself may be worth the possibility of relapse.