It was bound to happen sooner or later, and according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Phillies have “quietly checked in on” free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton. Commence panic, sports fans!
For all intents and purposes, "quietly checked in on" doesn't mean much of anything. It really just means that Amaro, like every other GM, is inquiring about any and every player that could possible be of service to their team. And given that Hamilton is an outfielder with a good offensive pedigree, he certainly fits that bill. For now, I wouldn't get too worried about it them signing Hamilton, but just to be safe, here are several reasons why Hamilton should not be signed.
1. He's made of glass. More accurately, he's made of bone and skin and muscle and marrow, but he might as well be made from that breakaway glass that they use in movies so that Brad Pitt doesn't get seriously injured when he is thrown through a window in the climactic fight scene. Since Hamilton became a full time player in 2007, he's played over 130 games just three times. He's played fewer than 100 games twice. In those six seasons, he's been injured in five of them. And if there is one thing the Phillies don't need, it's another injury-prone player that will need to be a key cog in their offense.
2. He's got a substance abuse problem. Not for nothing, what Hamilton has done to overcome his drug addiction that nearly ended his playing career (and his life) is nothing short of miraculous. He is one of the few that successfully conquered his demons to the point that he could return to playing baseball at a ridiculously high level, as evidenced .913 OPS since he returned to The Show. That said, those demons don't just go away. He's relapsed in the past, and like most addicts, is a risk to do so again in the future. He is a ball of talent that any team would love to have, but his past makes him too risky to offer a huge contract.
3. He's 31. At that age, he'll fit right in on the Phillies, who these days aren't known for being youthful. He figures to be in his prime for another two or three year years, give or take, but he'll probably get a deal that is at least six years, meaning that you'll be paying top dollar for a player that will be in decline for the bulk of his contract.
4. He's expensive. If this was the NFL, where contracts can be voided at the drop of a hat, then he would be worth considering because it's not guaranteed money. But in baseball, that isn't the case. if you sign him for 140 million over seven years, you pay every dime of it. At this moment, the Phillies aren't flush with cash. Sure, they could technically afford Hamilton, but with the luxury tax to consider, not to mention the fact that they have a lot of expensive players on the payroll, they would be well served to not add him to the payroll.
But like I said, odds are the Phillies aren't players for Hamilton. He's too costly, and Amaro is smart enough to avoid a bidding war with other teams that have money to burn and a need in the outfield. Luckily, it's a buyer's market for outfielders this year, and the Phillies would be well served to stay far, far away from Josh Hamilton.