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All quiet on Hamilton negotiations

The SportsXchange

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Josh Hamilton is the biggest name on the free agent market -- and also the biggest mystery.

There has been nearly a total news blackout on Hamilton's negotiations with clubs, and that is the way the outfielder's agent, Michael Moye, wants it. Moye is a firm believer that making contract talks public works against his clients.

The biggest news on the Hamilton front Tuesday came from Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington, who revealed at the Winter Meetings at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Resort that the star outfielder has promised the Rangers he would give them a chance to match whatever offers he receives from other clubs.

However, it seems that interest is limited, even though Hamilton hit 43 home runs and drove in 128 runs for Texas last season.

The Seattle Mariners and Rangers appear the most serious suitors for the 31-year-old. Philadelphia has been mentioned a possible landing spot for Hamilton, but a Phillies source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the chances of that happening are "doubtful."

The Boston Red Sox appear to be out of the running after agreeing to terms with free agent outfielder Shane Victorino on a three-year, $39 million contract on Tuesday. That deal won't be finalized until Victorino passes a physical.

Teams are worried about Hamilton's durability, particularly after he battled drug addiction for most of the early part of his professional career. He played in 148 games last season but was limited to 89 games in 2009, 133 games in 2010 and 121 games in 2011.

That is why teams scoffed at Hamilton's initial asking price of seven years and $175 million.

A Rangers source, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the negotiations, told The Sports Xchange that Texas would not offer a contract of more than four years to Hamilton.

"We love Josh and he's been a great player for us, but there is too much risk of the unknown to commit to him on a long contract," the source said.

The source also said that key members of the Rangers' front office were originally split on the decision of whether to attempt to re-sign Hamilton because of his streakiness. Last season, he hit a combined .368 with 21 home runs in April and May then dipped to .202 with eight homers in June and July.

In the end, though, the Rangers have come to the conclusion that there is no one they could acquire in a trade or through free agency who could replace Hamilton's offense.

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