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02/26/12 11:58 AM EST
Hamilton: Rangers would get shot to sign him
Outfielder will talk to Texas first if he becomes free agent after '12
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Outfielder Josh Hamilton said Sunday that if he does become a free agent after the season, the Rangers will get first chance to sign him.
"My loyalty is here," Hamilton said. "This is where I've been, this is where my family has been. I would love to be here. If I do become a free agent, they'll get a chance to do what they need to do to keep me here."
Hamilton is entering his fifth year with the Rangers and is eligible for free agency after the season. Contract discussions were put aside while Hamilton deals with personal and family issues, and have not yet resumed.
Hamilton said he is going to leave that up to the Rangers and his agent, Mike Moye. He said that he won't mind if the two sides discuss the contract during Spring Training or the regular season as long as he's not involved.
"It doesn't matter if they talk during the season as long as I don't know about it," Hamilton said. "I trust my agent. He's not only my agent but also a close friend and mentor. I just told him to call me if there is something to talk about. I'm going to leave it up to him if the Rangers approach him."
Hamilton is one of 11 Rangers players from their World Series roster who can be a free agent within the next two years. He had hoped to cut off contract negotiations at the beginning of Spring Training but that deadline is no longer in play. Negotiations were cut off after Hamilton suffered his second relapse in his substance abuse recovery program at the end of January.
This is the second time in three days that Hamilton has talked about his contract with the media in Spring Training. On Friday, he said that he didn't "owe" the Rangers anything when it came to a new contract. He clarified that comment on Sunday.
"What I owe the Rangers is 100 percent on the field, 100 percent in the clubhouse and 100 percent to the fans," Hamilton said. "That's what I owe the Rangers. I've done that and I will continue to do that."