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Hamilton extension on Rangers' checklist

Hamilton extension on Rangers' checklist

ARLINGTON -- For the third straight offseason, a long-term contract extension for outfielder Josh Hamilton will find its way onto the Rangers' list of things to do.

The subject probably won't come up until January after the Rangers have addressed their offseason needs. But it will be a topic of discussion, as Hamilton approaches arbitration for the second straight winter.

"It's something we've talked about internally," general manager Jon Daniels. "At some point I'm sure it will come up. He's eligible for arbitration, so we'll have to address his contract at some point."

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Hamilton has four full seasons of service time, meaning he can't become a free agent until after the 2013 season. But the Rangers would like to have him beyond that point.

Hamilton, who turns 30 on May 21, is coming off his best season and was named the American League's Most Valuable Player on Tuesday. He led the American League with a .359 batting average and a .633 slugging percentage while hitting 32 home runs and driving in 100 runs despite missing most of September with two small fractures in his left ribcage.

Hamilton also had a big year in 2008, hitting .304 with 32 home runs and a league-leading 130 RBIs in his first season with the Rangers. That led to extended discussions in the offseason about a long-term contract that continued well into Spring Training. But the Rangers couldn't reach an agreement with Hamilton and his agent, Michael Moye.

Hamilton dropped off to .268 with 10 home runs and 54 RBIs in 2009 while playing in just 89 games, and that limited the discussions about a long-term contract last winter. So did the uncertainty of the Rangers ownership situation.

Now the new ownership is in place, Hamilton is coming off a big season and the Rangers have more financial resources. It appears to be an appropriate moment to renew the discussions on a long-term deal.

"Obviously I want to be treated fair," Hamilton said. "That's what I've always said. It's going to be what it's going to be. I'm not going to sleep over it. I can live on what I get and still help a lot of people."

Hamilton made $3.25 million in 2010 after being eligible for arbitration for the first time in his career.

"That's why I have an agent," Hamilton said. "I stay out of it. I get paid to play, I don't get paid to think about getting paid. Whatever happens, happens."

Hamilton has also been selected as the Rangers Player of the Year. He will be honored with that award at the Dr. Pepper Mid-Winter Banquet on Jan. 21 at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine.

Hamilton also won the award in 2008. Tickets can be obtained at texasrangers.com.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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