Josh Hamilton, who is looking for a long-term contract worth $20-25 million annually, has turned down the Rangers' qualifying offer of $13.3 million.
The offer, made a week ago, was required for the Rangers to get Draft pick compensation if Hamilton signs with another team. The Rangers expected Hamilton to reject the offer but still have interest in re-signing him. The Rangers have stayed in contact with Hamilton's agent, Michael Moye, and expect to have further conversations as the offseason progresses.
No clear favorite has yet to emerge in the pursuit. Teams have been mentioned as having potential interest including the Brewers, Orioles, Mariners and Red Sox. But there may be some reluctance to offer Hamilton a contract longer than 4-5 years because of his age (31) and history of injuries.
The Rangers are likely to be among the teams not wanting to offer an extended long-term deal although nobody has a real feel yet what it will take to sign Hamilton. The Rangers are expecting to make one more run at signing Hamilton before he makes his final decision.
"We know all the possible ways it can play," said general manager Jon Daniels, who is attending the GM Meetings this week. "Josh has intimated that we'd get an option. We'd talk before he does something. I'd expect we'll talk before he does something."
The Rangers aren't sitting around and waiting on Hamilton. They have other needs to address, including bullpen and catcher. They'll try to reinforce their starting rotation by pursuing Zack Greinke. They are also concerned about the loss of offense if Hamilton departs.
The Rangers know they are not going to replace Hamilton's production but they are concerned about finding another left-handed bat. Right now their lineup is heavy from the right side with Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz, Michael Young, Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and Geovany Soto. Their best left-handed hitters are David Murphy, Mitch Moreland and Leonys Martin.