Rangers might be trying to decide between Hamilton, Fielder

Posted Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

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ARLINGTON -- Josh Hamilton, feeling fine and potentially a free agent after the 2012 season, said on Saturday that he would gladly welcome the addition of free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder.

"To imagine our lineup with Prince Fielder in it, it's pretty ridiculous looking," Hamilton said. "The short porch in right, my man could hit bombs. It would be pretty exciting to throw him in the mix."

The goal, said Hamilton, is to put the best team on the field for 2012 and win the World Series after finishing as the runners-up the past two seasons.

Fielder would be an upgrade, though at a steep price. So steep, in fact, that having him on the payroll could push a long-term extension for Hamilton out of the 2013 budget.

With the Yu Darvish negotiations seemingly on track for a multiyear contract, the Rangers might not be deciding between Darvish and Fielder. They could be deciding which left-handed slugger they'd rather have -- Fielder or Hamilton.

For now, Hamilton is concentrating on what he can control.

"There's nothing to worry about," said Hamilton, who prefers to stay with the Rangers. "I'm focused on this year and doing what I need to do to get everything feeling great. The focus on this year is to win the World Series."

Hamilton said that the window for the Rangers to hammer out an extension is open, though he would prefer to close it at the start of spring training.

He is seeking length. In December 2010 -- the off-season of the free-agent outfielder -- Jayson Werth signed a seven-year, $126 million pact with Washington and Carl Crawford agreed with Boston on a seven-year deal for $142 million.

Many wonder whether Hamilton can fetch that type of deal after being on the disabled list four of the past five seasons and with concerns about the long-term effect that past addictions to drugs and alcohol will have on his body.

But there might be a 2012 trump card.

"I just can't wait to play a whole season, man," said Hamilton, who is swinging a bat again after surgery in November to fix a sports hernia. "If I play 162 games, I might hit 50 home runs and have 140 RBIs. But even missing six weeks, I still have numbers as good as anyone else."

Werth was 31 when he signed his deal. That's how old Hamilton will be next off-season when he hopes to sign a contract that will allow him to help the less fortunate and also take care of players who will come after him by signing at market value.

"There's a lot of responsibility that comes with signing the right contract," he said.

Fielder, three years younger than Hamilton and an All-Star who has never been on the disabled list, is chasing a contract that rivals the deal Albert Pujols got from Anaheim -- 10 years, $240 million.

That's out of the Rangers' price range, and they received no indications during a Friday meeting with Fielder and agent Scott Boras that the price tag is going to come down.

Team president Nolan Ryan, who kicked off FanFest at the Arlington Convention Center on Saturday with a Q&A with fans, said that the meeting was "very preliminary."

"Our mindset is that we're constantly trying to improve the ballclub," Ryan said. "We look at any opportunity to do that that we have. We met... to try to get a true feel for where they are at this point in time in his free agency to try to see if we thought there might be something there that works for the Texas Rangers."

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

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