With the events of last week becoming painfully public for Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton, both Hamilton and Rangers GM Jon Daniels said they are putting contract negotiations on the backburner after both sides had recently said they want to finish a deal before spring training starts in a few weeks.
That clearly won't happen now, as Hamilton has some things he needs to work out in his personal life.
So where do the Rangers go from here? While, as Daniels said, this isn't a "baseball story" but instead of real-life human drama, the No. 1 priority for everyone involved should be, and is Hamiilton's well being. But there's also business to attend to, and while the Rangers won't say anything like that publicly right now, you can bet they are thinking about it.
When the Rangers passed on Prince Fielder, it was assumed by nearly everyone that the decision was made based on the fact they would lock up Hamilton for the long term knowing they couldn't have both for a large amount of time.
Wonder if they're regretting that decision now? Hamilton had his second known relapse with alcohol in three years last week at a busy bar and there are all kinds of rumors flying around about other things going on that night that are nothing but rumors, but people are talking, nonetheless. And based on Hamilton's press conference, it's clear he has some other things going on in his personal life other than just his relapse.
Hamilton obviously had a rough year. The whole Shannon Stone tragedy has got to eat at him every day. It was without a doubt a rough year, and in the offseason, without baseball, Hamilton is more likely to have too much time on his hands. So should the Rangers worry about him going forward? Absolutely.
But let's be real, the substance abuse history with Hamilton is not the only concern for the Rangers, or any other club who might try to sign him as a free agent. He has more than his fair share of durability issues as well, partly because of his reckless style of play, and probably partly because of his past of abusing his body. He might have just hit 30, but his body could be more like 33 or 34.
As tough as it would be personally, the Rangers should lay off the negotiations, let Hamilton hit free agency and see what other teams offer. There's no point in outbidding yourself while you have the exclusive negotiation rights. Let someone set the market price for who has to be one of the most interesting cases of MLB free agency ever.
Someone will offer more than the Rangers are willing to pay, that's almost certain. It'll just be up to Hamilton to decide if he wants to remain in a city that adores him, despite all his flaws, and has a great support system set up for him.