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Mariners rumors: Seattle "very close" to signing Josh Hamilton

The Mariners are reportedly nearing a deal with this offseason's biggest free-agent position player.

Tom Pennington

The Seattle Mariners are "very close" to landing free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton, with only the Rangers' continued interest standing in the way, reports Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times:

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.

The Mariners were thought to be out of the Hamilton sweepstakes by the time things kicked off in Nashville on Monday, but that is apparently not the case. Seattle has a legitimate chance to leave Opryland with two new outfielders, albeit one much better than the other.

The Rangers are also in discussions for the winter meetings' other big target, Zack Greinke, and have been tied to several rumors of a blockbuster trade involving Justin Upton and James Shields. If Texas decides to move on either of those potential deals, they are likely out of the running for Hamilton, putting the Mariners in the driver's seat to acquire the outfielder.

If the Rangers decide to re-focus their efforts on Hamilton, however, it could be difficult for Seattle to come out ahead as Hamilton's agent has told Texas they have the opportunity to match any offer made by another team.