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12/15/12 10:23 PM ET
Hamilton: Rangers missed chance to seal a deal
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Josh Hamilton said he wanted to stay in Texas. The Rangers were operating under the assumption they would get the last chance to at least talk to him.
But on Saturday, Hamilton and his wife, Katie, expressed disappointment that the Rangers did not chase after him harder as a free agent.
"I mean, I gave them everything I had for five years," Hamilton said. "So I'd be lying to you if I said it didn't bother you a little bit, that they didn't put the press on. My wife explained it very eloquently."
Hamilton and his wife spoke at a news conference in Anaheim, where he was introduced as the newest member of the Angels. Hamilton agreed to a five-year, $125 million contract with the Angels last Wednesday, ending his five-year stay with the Rangers.
"My take on it was that we were with them for five years," Katie Hamilton said. "If you're going to date somebody and that's going to be your man or your woman, then you make it official and make it known pretty quick, or at some point, that you want to be with them. They let us date other teams [at the Winter Meetings] and Josh said that's it, that he'd give them the first chance. They didn't take him up on that. They let us go out and date people and kind of give our hearts away."
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels was told the news by Hamilton's agent, Mike Moye, on Thursday. That was the day after Hamilton accepted the Angels' offer. At the time, Daniels said he was disappointed the Rangers weren't at least able to have one more conversation with Moye. The Rangers were operating under the assumption that Hamilton would fully explore the market and then give them one last chance to at least talk with him before he made a final decision. The Rangers assumed that Moye had agreed to work it that way.
On Saturday, Daniels declined to discuss the negotiating process any more.
"We wish him well," Daniels said. "It was a very productive, mutually beneficial relationship we had for five years. It was a unique player-organization relationship and we wish him well."
Length of contract was the deciding factor. The Rangers indicated they would do a four-year deal with Hamilton. Last Wednesday, the Angels came through with a fifth year on their offer and it was basically a take-it or leave-it proposition. Hamilton was given a short period of time by the Angels to accept and he did so on Wednesday without telling the Rangers.
"Reports in the media that we had given the Rangers a right to match were erroneous," Moye said Saturday. "Reports in the media that Josh and his agency had given the Rangers a right to match were inaccurate and erroneous."
Hamilton first met with the Angels in Nashville during the Winter Meetings. His last meeting with Daniels was Dec. 7 in Texas.
"I met with JD about a week before this happened, and just shared my heart with him completely," Hamilton said. "Obviously I praised him and thanked him for everything he had done to me and my family, and I talked about the fans and coaching staff and all of the above, and how much heartfelt and appreciation there was.
"But I was feeling like there was time for me to move on, just in general, there's no specific thing that's like, 'Hey, you know, upset,' or anything like that. It was just a sense of peace; praying and searching. It was time to turn the page and move to a new season and chapter in life."
The Rangers acquired Hamilton from the Reds five years ago in a trade for pitchers Edinson Volquez and Danny Herrera. During his time with the Rangers, Hamilton hit .305 with 142 home runs, 506 RBIs and a .549 slugging percentage. He was the American League's Most Valuable Player in 2010, and he helped the Rangers go to two straight World Series in 2010-11.
The Rangers began negotiations on a long-term contract extension with Hamilton last offseason, but those discussions were tabled in Spring Training after he experienced a second public relapse in his ongoing battle with alcohol and drugs. Hamilton admitted to using alcohol in a Dallas bar just before Spring Training and the decision was made to hold the negotiations so he could focus on getting his personal life in order.
Negotiations never seemed to resume in earnest until after the season when Hamilton became a free agent. The Rangers had a short window to negotiate exclusively after the World Series was over and declined to do so. They let Hamilton test the market with the idea that he would come back to them in the end.
Hamilton never saw it that way. His view was the Rangers were going to get first shot and they didn't take advantage of it.
"The day the news broke, I turned on MLB Network and Harold Reynolds, as soon as I turned it on, he was like, 'Roll the videotape.'" Hamilton said. "And I pop up, and I'm talking after one of the games or something, and then they ask me a contract question and I say, 'Look, I said all along I'll give the Rangers first shot after the season's over.'
"And afterwards I see Harold just up there grinning and a couple of other guys, 'OK, I get it now,' because it came out of my mouth that I'd give them the first shot. And they let me date. It is what it is."