ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 27: Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers hits a two-run home run in the 10th inning off of Jason Motte #30 of the St. Louis Cardinals during Game Six of the MLB World Series at Busch Stadium on October 27, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Josh Hamilton pulled an Albert Pujols recently when he said he wants a deal in place with the Texas Rangers before the team reports to spring training.
It's the same thing Pujols did with the Cardinals last season and when a deal wasn't reached he followed through with his plan, which was to not negotiate during the season. Now, Pujols is playing for the Los Angeles Angels and the St. Louis Cardinals lost the face of their franchise.
There was some added bitterness in the Pujols storyline that isn't the case here with Hamilton, who seems to love it in Texas, and the Rangers love him back.
But with Hamilton set to become a free agent following the 2012 season, the Rangers have to make a decision and make it quick. Hamilton, who is 30, is likely going to sign his one big free agent contract and now that the Rangers missed out on the Prince Fielder sweepstakes their top priority is going to be locking Hamilton up for the long term.
Of course, it's well-documented that Hamilton's past has taken a toll on his body with drug abuse and just the reckless abandon he shows on the baseball field, which can't and shouldn't be changed. He's only played one full season in the majors but is clearly one of the league's best players as evidenced by his AL MVP award in 2010.
So it's a fine line for the Rangers, who must decide how long and at what terms to commit to the dynamic player.
"Josh, I think rightfully so, is going to look at this as maybe the one time he really hits free agency and how does he factor that in with his family and the different opportunities that he has," Rangers GM Jon Daniels told Ben and Skin on 103.3 FM. "We're talking to them about this, the Rangers organization as a group. We love Josh. We love what he's about, and we want to keep him here, and we're going to continue talking to him and hopefully we'll figure something out."