As the trade deadline looms and the Texas Rangers are once again buyers, there is a question that fans are asking more and more by the day. Fans have gotten frustrated with Josh Hamilton's production and approach at the plate and have slowly come around to the fact that he will most likely not be in a Rangers' uniform next season. That has prompted the question, "Why not trade Josh and get something out of him before he is gone?" While the question is very understandable, there are even more reasons this year than there would have been in previous years that he will not be dealt.
Where does he go?
When the talk of trading Hamilton comes up there are countless suggested trades, such as "let's trade Josh for Justin Upton" or "let's just trade him for Felix Hernandez" or my favorite "trade him to the Angels for Trout." While some of those may be crazier than the others, they all will not happen and even if you could find a good option, it is not going to take place.
There is a difference between buyers and sellers this time of the season. The teams in contention are buyers and the teams who feel the season is basically over are the sellers. Those are the teams that are looking to help their team down the line. They are looking at the 2013 season and often beyond that point. Especially if Hamilton leaves Texas, he is going out on the open market, so these teams would be trading for two months of Hamilton's services when they do not even have a chance at the postseason. Most of these teams will have already started to lose some of their fans for the year and trading for Hamilton would not generate a larger fan base in two month's time.
Since the Rangers are buyers in this market, they are most often working with the sellers. It is rare that a contending team will make a deal with another contending team. If it does happen it is generally across leagues and normally not for a large impact player. It would be for smaller role type players and is often when a team has a young player at the same position that if fully prepared to take over. The Rangers and Giants did this in 2010 when Bengie Molina came to Texas for Chris Ray. The Giants were ready to completely hand things over to Buster Posey and did not mind sending Molina to Texas, since he was not necessarily going to come back and hurt them in the postseason.
Even though the Rangers could send him off to another contender for prospects, there are still many issues with that. One of the first issues is that Hamilton's stock is down. He is not the ballplayer he was at the beginning of the year and teams would not give the Rangers what his value truly is during this career long slump. The other is that most of the teams buying this season are looking for starting pitching. There is not a strong market for bats or even bullpen arms at this point and finding a team that would be willing to give Texas the amount of prospects necessary to do something like this would be very hard to find. Even if all of those pieces could come into play, it is not going to happen because Hamilton is the type of player that would come back to haunt them in the postseason. This slump will not last forever and would most likely end the moment he was somewhere else with a change of scenery.
The New CBA
While a lot still has to go on for a contender to move a player like Hamilton, it still would have been more feasible a year ago. Up until this season when the new collective bargaining agreement went into place, any team that lost a player in free agency who was classified as a Type A or Type B player would receive draft pick compensation. Essentially that would mean that a player like Hamilton would gain his team two additional high draft picks if he were to leave, no matter how long he had been with his team. That is different now and the player has to remain with the same team all season long to receive the draft picks. That means that even if the Rangers could find a team that was willing to trade for Hamilton, there offer is not going to be as strong as in the past, because they get nothing out of it two months from now. Hamilton is gone, they have lost the prospects required to get him and they are not receiving draft pick compensation. The only team that can receive compensation for Hamilton is the Rangers and those draft picks do mean something to teams.
He is still Josh Hamilton
Putting everything else that has been said aside and pretending that the Rangers could just send him off anywhere they wanted and get a solid return, he is still Josh Hamilton. Yes, he is in a horrible slump and something has to change, but he is still one of the most feared hitters in the game. There is no way the Rangers can replace him in the lineup and there is no way they are going to try at this point in the season. He is a difference maker in the lineup and he can be a difference maker in October, especially if he is healthy. Things are starting to change and teams have truly found a way to exploit his holes, but it is still going to be better than it currently is. Hamilton will come around in some form and the Rangers need his bat to win the World Series.
It would be nice if trading ballplayers was like trading baseball cards and the Rangers could say, "I'll give you this Josh Hamilton for your Mike Trout or Andrew McCutchen," but that is not the case. There are many, many factors that have to go into play with all of this and the Rangers simply cannot work a deal that would give them enough in return and at the same time allow them to replace him. The Rangers will go down swinging with Hamilton this season. It is just a matter if he is making contact or not.
John Bowman is a lifelong baseball and Texas Rangers fan that loves to ponder the deeper aspects of the game. Some of his first baseball memories involve Arlington Stadium nachos, Charlie Hough's knuckleball, dirt on Pete Incaviglia's uniform and the voices of Mark Holtz and Eric Nadel as he fell asleep.
- Sports & Recreation
- Josh Hamilton
- Texas Rangers