Thought to be down to a contest between the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers yesterday, the bid to sign free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton may be expanding to include the two big spenders out east: the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.
The Yankees are running a background check on the left slugger, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today, and the Red Sox remain "in dialogue" with Hamilton, according to Alex Speier of WEEI:
Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen, in an interview on WEEI's Red Sox Hot Stove Show, said that the team continues to talk to free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton. He declined to go into specifics about the nature of the conversations, but suggested that the team will remain in dialogue with the slugger...
"We’re staying engaged with Josh and all the other free agents, and we’ll see where it goes...
"We just stay engaged in all of those things, and as the market moves and it presents itself, you have a choice. You have your choice to get in or get out."
The Red Sox have already signed on two outfielders in the last few weeks, bringing on Jonny Gomes on a two-year deal and Shane Victorino on a three-year agreement, but the club still has a corner outfield spot to fill and money with which to play.
While the Red Sox have had Hamilton on the periphery for some time, the Yankees' newfound interest in the slugger may indicate an internal power struggle over where the organization is headed. Word surfaced yesterday that Yankees GM Brian Cashman had come to the Winter Meetings stripped of his power to make offers to players, and New York's look into Hamilton appears to be a continuation of this policy, as the GM is reportedly not involved.
For all their talk of staying under the $189 million luxury tax in 2012, Joel Sherman of the NY Post believes that there is still a chance that New York makes a run at Hamilton in the end.