DEC. 28: Re-signing Hamilton to a minors pact is a “formality” now that he’s been cleared by the Rangers’ medical staff, writes MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan. Hamilton will still have to earn his way onto the Major League roster in Spring Training, though.
DEC. 23: The Rangers are “likely” to strike a deal to re-sign veteran outfielder Josh Hamilton, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Team doctors are said to have taken a look at Hamilton’s surgically repaired left knee and determined that he should be ready to go next spring.
Of course, the expectation at this point is that Hamilton will need to battle for a roster spot as a minor-league signee. The 35-year-old never managed to play last year, as he ultimately required two procedures to address ligament damage in his knee. He was released in August, with both team and player suggesting at the time that a new deal was contemplated.
Hamilton’s most recent MLB action came in 2015, when he returned to the Rangers after the Angels cut bait on his ill-fated free-agent contract. He managed to take 182 plate appearances, producing a .253/.291/.441 batting line with eight home runs.
While it seems that there could still be power in Hamilton’s long-feared bat, he’ll need to turn things around in the on-base department to return to productivity. He struck out 52 times while drawing only ten walks in his recent run with Texas.
Hamilton did post above-average offensive numbers during his two seasons with the Halos before that, though, even if his .255/.316/.426 slash fell well shy of hopes when he inked a five-year, $125MM to head to Los Angeles. He received that huge contract after posting five consecutive All-Star campaigns with the Rangers from 2008 through 2012.
Beyond the performance and health questions, Hamilton’s record includes a troubled history with substance abuse that stretches to the early stages of his professional career. But Texas was willing to take on the associated risks when it accepted a small piece of the remainder of his contract with Los Angeles, and obviously feels that he has held up his end of the bargain since coming back into the fold.