NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Texas Rangers Manager Ron Washington was making the rounds at the MLB winter meetings Wednesday, talking baseball and wondering if he'll have outfielder Josh Hamilton back again next year.
"We're still in the running for Josh," Washington said. "I'm not thinking about that part of it yet, but if that was the case, that's where our youth that we feel strongly about, they would have to just step up if there wasn't anything out there that we as a group felt could come in help us. We'll never replace Josh, if that happened, but we hope that doesn't happen and we're still in the running."
The most likely deal now is said to be four years, not the seven years that Hamilton and his agent would like. But at four years, there is always a chance that a team will step forward and try to top anything that Texas has on the table.
"Years are going to be the issue," said MLB Network baseball analyst John Hart. "I think it was from the very beginning and I think it is for a lot of players that are in their early thirties that are playing premium defensive positions, and how far do you want to go?"
"Will he get more than three years? Yes, I think he'll get more than three years," said senior reporter for MLB on Fox Ken Rosenthal. "I don't know where he'll get it, how he'll get it, or who will give it to him, but I do think some team will step up."
Right now, Texas appears to have as good a shot as any team to re-sign Hamilton.
"I've maintained since early November that the conversations that I was getting from people was that the environment for him to return was improving on a daily basis, and people started to survey the market and saw that there is really nobody out there who can do what Josh does," said Dallas Morning News baseball columnist Evan Grant. "It just created an environment where it was more likely that he'll return."
Washington is keeping his fingers crossed and said Hamilton told the Rangers that'll he'll come back to them to discuss a final offer before leaving for any team.