The Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles have emerged as possible destinations for free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton, according to Jon Heyman. The 31-year-old is the biggest bat available this winter, and both teams could see him as an attractive addition to their respective lineups.
Hamilton, the 2010 AL MVP, had an up-and-down 2012 for the Texas Rangers. He hit .285/.354/.577 with 43 home runs and 128 RBIs, but he began the year looking like a sure-fire MVP and Triple Crown candidate. His OPS through the end of May was nearly 1.200. But he struggled mightily in the heat of the summer, posting an OPS of only .687 in June and July. He rebounded in August and September, but he looked feckless as the Rangers faded down the stretch, striking out 18 times in the team's final 10 regular season games. His 0-4 with two Ks in the Wild Card Play-In game against the Orioles left many wondering out loud if the Rangers would even want him back.
The Mariners are a logical candidate in the Hamilton sweepstakes, as they boast the likes of Kyle Seager and Michael Saunders as their best hitters. They are both good players, surely, but neither are the middle-of-the-order threat that Hamilton is.
"If the right bat's available, we're going to have to talk about it,'' Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said. "We're going to have several discussions with agents.''
The Mariners scored only 619 runs in 2012, the first time they broke 600 since 2009. The team has been in an offensive slump for years, and a hitter like Hamilton would be an ideal centerpiece to the rebuilding effort.
The Orioles, a sudden contender in the cutthroat AL East, would likely view Hamilton as that final piece of the puzzle. They already have young and budding stars in Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and Manny Machado, so Hamilton could help take the surprise out of their contention.