After advancing to the postseason for the first time in 15 years, the Orioles are apparently targeting the top free-agent hitter on the market this offseason.
According to a report from FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi, Texas Rangers outfielder and 2010 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Hamilton tops the club’s wishlist this winter as he would provide an excellent fit in left field. Nate McLouth is a free agent, so there is a clear opening in the outfield to add one of the game’s most feared hitters.
Hamilton hit .285, clubbed 43 home runs, and knocked in 128 runs in Texas this past season, but the 31-year-old struggled in the second half of the season with a .259 average and drew the ire of Rangers fans as he struggled down the stretch during a team-wide collapse that cost Texas the AL West division title.
Much doubt remains over how serious executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and the Orioles would be about Hamilton, who is reportedly seeking a deal in the range of seven years and $175 million. Baltimore’s Opening Day payroll in 2012 was an estimated $84 million, so the addition of Hamilton would drastically alter their current payroll structure.
Morsosi also reports the same source said free-agent outfielder Cody Ross would be another option they might target should Hamilton’s price prove too steep. He hit .267 with 22 home runs and 81 runs batted in with the Boston Red Sox in 2012.