The Texas Rangers don't plan to offer prized free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton more than a three-year contract, according to a high-ranking team official, which likely will lead to the Rangers severing ties with the 2010 American League MVP.
The official spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because negotiations have not yet begun.
Michael Moye, Hamilton's agent, met with several teams at the annual general managers meetings, but not with Texas.
The Rangers have offered Hamilton a one-year qualifying offer for $13.3 million, which he's expected to officially reject today. Hamilton has indicated he's seeking a seven-year, $175 million deal.
Even if Hamilton's suitors fall short of that mark, they certainly figure to exceed the three-year threshold the Rangers won't cross.
"We'll visit with him probably next week," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels says. "Whatever the process that they wanted to go through, they were going to do. I'll get a sense of that when Mike and I talk.
"Outside of that, I'm kind of in the dark. I can't really say."
Hamilton is drawing heavy interest from the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles, according to a high-ranking executive from each team involved in the talks, and could come closer to meeting Hamilton's demands. The executives spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because negotiations are ongoing.
The Rangers have become leery of offering Hamilton a long-term contract, particularly with his struggles in the second half last season. Hamilton hit .252 with 18 homers and 55 RBI with 88 strikeouts in 286 at-bats from July1 through the end of the season, including 20 strikeouts in his last 46 at-bats. He misplayed a fly ball in Oakland in the final days that cost the Rangers the division title, and he went hitless in four at-bats, seeing eight pitches, in Texas' wild-card loss to Baltimore.
"When you live with somebody for five years," Daniels says, "you get to know them very well. It's like any relationship at any level. In the good times, the pluses get highlighted. When there's rough times, the opposite is true. The last couple weeks weren't good for the organization.
"I think we have to prepare both ways."
The Rangers have discussed options to replace Hamilton, including trading for Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton or signing free agent Torii Hunter.
The Diamondbacks are willing to send Upton to the Rangers for shortstop Elvis Andrus or top prospect Jurickson Profar, but the Rangers instead are willing to part only with third-base prospect Michael Olt, according to an official directly involved with the talks but not authorized to discuss them because they are ongoing.
Yet it already is getting late for Hamilton, if he plans to remain in Texas.
"I don't think you can sit around and say, 'We have to see what happens with Josh,'" Rangers President Nolan Ryan said Tuesday in a news briefing.
"We have to be out there seeing what opportunities there are to improve the club.
"If you just sit back and wait, you might miss an opportunity that you might regret."
Right now, their interest likely will lead to a parting of the ways with their five-time All-Star outfielder.
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