Report: Mariners 'very close' to signing Josh Hamilton

Ed Zurga

NASHVILLE - Early Thursday morning at baseball's Winter Meetings, the Seattle Times' Geoff Baker did what good reporters do: He got the scoop.

In this case, a juicy bit of gossip about the highest-profile hitter available on the free-agent market this winter: Josh Hamilton, late of the Texas Rangers and soon of the ... Well, we don't know yet. But as Baker reports, the Seattle Mariners might have a lot to say about things, and are "very close" to signing Hamilton.

The one thing holding the process up is the fact the Texas Rangers are also interested in hanging on to Hamilton and remain the most serious Mariners competitor on that front. But the Rangers also remain engaged in a two-pronged battle with the Dodgers for the services of starting pitcher Zack Greinke and would not be able to land both him and Hamilton.

Yahoo! reported that Hamilton’s agent, Michael Moye, met with Rangers GM Jon Daniels here at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and told him he would have an opportunity to match any offer sent Hamilton’s way. But if the Rangers decide to sign Greinke, they would not have enough left over to match any Hamilton offer as well.

That would leave the Mariners, who, the source said, would likely make a Hamilton deal happen "very soon" afterwards.

There's a sense, I think, that the Mariners need to do something. They've suffered through a series of losing seasons under general manager Jack Zduriencik, and someone recently was rude enough to point out that the Mariners' attendance has dropped more, percentage-wise, over the last decade than any other big professional team in American sports. A few more rebuilding years, in the wake of The Chone Figgins Affair, probably just isn't a viable option at this point.

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