Hamilton hopes to settle contract, keep Young

Hamilton hopes to settle contract, keep Young

ARLINGTON -- Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton is growing hopeful that his 2011 contract can be settled without an arbitration hearing and also said he would be "disappointed" if the club ends up trading infielder Michael Young.

Hamilton spoke Monday at the Ballpark in Arlington, where he was on hand to see the Rangers' equipment truck depart for Arizona.

Hamilton also worked out with Young on Monday morning and they talked about what might happen before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training a week from Wednesday.

"He said he wasn't sure of anything," Hamilton said. "I don't know. We'll see. It's going to be different."

Young on Monday declined to discuss his situation until it gets resolved.

Right now, Young remains the Rangers' designated hitter and utility infielder. He took on that role after the Rangers signed free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre in the first week of January.

Young initially agreed to the switch after spending the previous two seasons as the Rangers' third baseman. But he has since grown disenchanted with his situation and sources said he has asked the Rangers to consider trading him to a team where he could play regularly on defense.

The club has expressed a willingness to try to accommodate him, but there is no deal that is close. The Rangers would still prefer to keep Young and are still hoping the situation can be resolved without a trade.

"It's definitely a concern when you think about his leadership and how long he has been in the organization," Hamilton said. "Thinking about him not being here is hard to think about. He is a guy who I could go for leadership and learn from. If we lose him, it will be a big loss.

"Obviously, he loves it here in Texas. He has been here a long time. Obviously it would be disappointing. Anytime you lose a player like Michael, it's hard on a team. It's hard to lose a guy who has been your most durable player, who gets 550-600 at-bats a year and puts up numbers. But I don't get paid to make those decisions. I do what I have to do and play with who I have to play with."

Young's situation is one big story hovering over the Rangers. Hamilton's contract is another, and he is scheduled for an arbitration hearing next Monday in Phoenix. He is asking for $12 million and the club is offering $8.7 million.

The two sides -- agent Mike Moye and Rangers general manager Jon Daniels -- have also discussed a two-year deal that would prevent Hamilton from going through arbitration again next winter. He is not eligible for free agency until after 2012.

"If it's right, you'd like to do that," Hamilton said. "But if it's not ... you go with the one year. If two years gets done, it's a plus and takes some of the stress off and this situation doesn't have to happen next year."

The Rangers haven't had a player go to an arbitration hearing since 2000. Hamilton is the only Rangers player eligible for arbitration who remains unsigned.

"J.D. and Moye have been in touch on a regular basis," Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine said. "The conversations have been very professional and very positive. As long as the lines of communications remain open, there is optimism that a deal can get done. Hopefully, that's the case. Both sides have said the goal is to get an agreement."

Hamilton said he is still bracing for the possibility of going to an arbitration hearing.

"You've got to look at it that way," Hamilton said. "If it happens, you're ready. If not, that's what everybody wants to happen. The talks have gotten better. We feel like we're moving in the right direction toward each other.

"But it's not about me and what I get. It's about the guys coming after me and doing the same thing the guys did who came before me."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.