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December 6, 2012 at 12:09 AM

Mariners said to still be very much in the running for Josh Hamilton

The Mariners and Josh Hamilton are said to be “very close” to a deal, depending on what happens first between free agent pitcher Zack Greinke and the Texas Rangers. Photo Credit: AP

It once seemed like Josh Hamilton had become a forgotten man for the Mariners here this week as they pursued a host of other offensive options. But I’m now told the talks between the two sides have been a lot more serious than anyone has let on and that they are actually “very close” to getting a deal done.

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.

The news about Hamilton being so heavily on Seattle’s radar — Zduriencik had all but ruled out landing the outfielder two weeks ago — comes as the Mariners prepare to wrap-up what has been a busy three days here in Nashville. The Mariners arguably were mentioned in more rumors about bats thanany other team here, but have nothing but a smaller pending deal with outfielder Jason Bay to show for it.

Now, they apparently could get a Hamilton deal done within days depending on when a decision is made by Greinke on where he’s going to play. That process is not expected to take very long because there are only believed to be two serious suitors.

The list of potential Hamilton suitors appears to be drying up as well after the Red Sox jettisoned big money at the meetings to bring in Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino as offensive additions. The Baltimore Orioles also appear done with outfield upgrades after adding Nate McClouth onWednesday.

Hamilton initially was reported to be seeking a contract of six or seven years, but it’s doubtful the Mariners would have to go that long now. What remains to be seen is whether some other team decides to jump into the mix if the Rangers bow out.

The Phillies and Brewers were both thought to be potential suitors, but Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin continues to be quoted saying the price is too steep.

So, the biggest news for now? That the Mariners are this deep into Hamilton talks. Quite a change from what the organization has been presenting to the public for the past couple of weeks. Then again, maybe they like his price better now.

Comments | More in Winter meetings | Topics: free agents, Jack Zduriencik, josh hamilton


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