Josh Hamilton's season came to an unceremonious end last night, as he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and a ground ball double play during the Rangers' loss in the AL Wild Card play-in game. After the game, the outfielder told reporters (including Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports) that the odds of him returning to Texas are "50-50," and that he would give the team the chance to match any offer (Twitter links).
"I always would love to stay here," said Hamilton according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas. "They understand that. They know that. When we talked earlier in the year, we didn't get things worked out, so we said we'd wait until the year was over. They obviously get first shot. I told them they'd get first shot at the end of the year. We'll see what happens."
The 31-year-old Hamilton had a remarkable regular season, hitting .285/.354/.577 with 43 home runs in 636 plate appearances. He avoided the DL for the first time since 2008, though he did battle some sinus and vision problems late in the year. Hamilton seemed to indicate that they were still an issue after last night's game, and he finished the season by going 8-for-35 (.229) with 16 strikeouts and no walks in his final eight games and 35 plate appearances.
The two sides discussed a contract extension during Spring Training and into the regular season, but decided to suspend talks in early-August. Hamilton will be the top hitter on the free agent market this winter, though he will be one of the riskiest big-ticket free agents in history given his off-the-field concerns and injury issues. A long-term contract worth $100MM+ is not unreasonable given his production.