As Hamilton slugs away, contract speculation heats up

BALTIMORE -- The most popular media angle Wednesday in the aftermath of Josh Hamilton's four-homer game a night earlier was his uncertain future with the Texas Rangers.

Hamilton can be a free agent after this season. The Rangers have been negotiating with agent Mike Moye for some time, beyond since the season started, and Hamilton's record-breaking performance did nothing to intensify talks.

A report surfaced Wednesday that the Rangers had "re-opened" negotiations, but the sides have been talking in some capacity since spring training.

Rangers brass, including principal owner Bob Simpson, met last month with Moye at Rangers Ballpark shortly before announcing an extension for second baseman Ian Kinsler.

Though talks have been ongoing, a deal with the four-time All-Star is not imminent.

"There's nothing new to say about the situation," general manager Jon Daniels said in a mass e-mail to reporters covering the club.

"We want Josh to remain a Ranger for a long time, and he's expressed that the feeling is mutual. Beyond that, we are not going to discuss any potential negotiations, with Josh or other players."

Hamilton didn't have a chance to maintain his torrid pace Wednesday as the Rangers' game against the Orioles was postponed by rain. The Rangers don't return to Camden Yards this season, so the game will be made up today as part of a doubleheader today at 3:05 p.m.

Like the rain, contract speculation was wide-spread Wednesday. Tweets, blog items and reports said that Hamilton could garner as much as $25 million a year or $200 million over the course of a long-term deal.

He will turn 32 next year in what will be the first year of his new contract.

Hamilton said that the contract isn't his motivation for the hot start to his season -- he leads baseball in the Triple Crown categories -- and said that the Rangers might be waiting to see if he can stay healthy this season before talks heat up.

He has only one season with more than 150 games, but won the American League MVP in 2010 while playing in 133 games.

"It's weird," Hamilton said. "Even though I hadn't been healthy except one year, I've still put up numbers that guys would put up in a full year. That's something for them to think about and not me to worry about."

Manager Ron Washington isn't worried, nor is he interested with involving himself in front-office dealings, but he's willing to provide financial assistance.

"To keep Hamilton here, he can have mine," Washington said.

It will take more than the seven-figure salary Washington is drawing to convince Hamilton to stay. For now, he's under contract and determined to not let all the contract talk that emerged Wednesday to become a distraction.

"I've been completely able to block it out," said Hamilton, who set an AL record with 18 total bases Tuesday night. "I pray all the time that God has us where he wants us to be at the end of the season. If that's with Texas, it's with Texas. If not, I'll be happy to go wherever he wants us to go.

"I'm under contract with the Texas Rangers to play baseball this season. Thinking about all that stuff, how I can be the best I can be that night, doesn't allow me to think about what's going on into next year."

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

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