MLB Trade Rumors: Josh Hamilton to be Traded by the Rangers if He Doesn't Sign a Contract Extension?

Josh Hamilton became the 16th player in MLB history to hit four home runs on Tuesday.
Josh Hamilton became the 16th player in MLB history to hit four home runs in a game in 2012. Reuters

It's almost unheard of for a team to trade one of the best players in their sport. It's even more unheard of for a team to do it when they are in contention to win a championship.

That's the spot the Texas Rangers are currently in.

The Rangers have a decision to make regarding Josh Hamilton. The outfielder will be a free agent in the offseason, and is looking to sign one of the largest contracts in baseball. On Wednesday, CBS Sports reported that Hamilton is looking to sign a deal that's worth around $200 million.

The two sides were unable to come to an agreement in the offseason, and have reportedly been trying to work out a deal in recent days. The problem with Hamilton's demands is his health issues.

There's no question he's one of the best players in the MLB. He won the American League MVP in 2010, and has played better than anyone through the first 30 games of 2012. Hamilton has more home runs, runs batted in, and a better batting average than any player in baseball.

However, history has shown that Hamilton will only be able to keep up this pace for so long. He's been on the disabled list almost every year since joining the majors.

If the Rangers feel that they won't be able to sign Hamilton to a reasonable contract, might they look to deal him before the trade deadline?

There's not much precedence for that type of deal.

In the NBA, the Nuggets traded their best player, Carmelo Anthony, a year ago. Denver was a potential playoff team at the time, and still made it to the postseason after the move.

Dwight Howard wasn't traded by the Magic, but he would be the best example. Orlando made the finals just a few years ago, and seriously considered trading the one player that gave them hope of winning a championship.

Baseball is very different from basketball. Sabermatricians say the best baseball players are worth only about eight wins per year to their teams. If you take a star player off an NBA team, they can go from one of the league's best to one of the league's worst.

Texas has a viable offense, and could survive if they were to trade Hamilton. They could get some good prospects and serviceable major leaguers in a potential deal.

The Rangers have the best record in the MLB at the moment, and have appeared in the last two World Series. They would still be one of the top contenders in the American League if they were to deal Hamilton.

The Rangers will likely hold onto Hamilton, and hope that they can bring him back for 2013 and beyond. Having him in the middle of the lineup gives them a tremendous offense, and trading him in the middle of the season would certainly anger the fans.

But if Texas wants to ensure that they don't lose Hamilton for nothing, they'll look to get the most they can for the former MVP.

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