The Texas Rangers may be allowing their star batter Josh Hamilton to test the free-agent market this offseason, but he should stay with this team regardless of the offers sure to come his way.

Hamilton has had one of the more interesting MLB careers to date, with his drug issues almost ending it prematurely awhile back. This is a team that saw potential in him despite his off-the-field issues and has enjoyed some of its greatest recent success after centering the franchise around him.

The loyalty card is not one that is often honored in this age of baseball, but it is something Hamilton should sincerely consider. If Albert Pujols can be persuaded to take the money and run, it seems unlikely that Hamilton couldn’t be tempted as well; but it’s not as if the Rangers don’t have money to give.

Texas hasn’t been throwing Los Angeles Angels-type money around recently, but it did acquire Mike Adams, Joe Nathan and Yu Darvish just last year. This is a team that went to the 2010 ALCS, 2011 World Series and the 2012 postseason. The Rangers are knocking on that door where the World Series trophy is held and have the talent to make it open it as early as 2013 if Hamilton rejoins the club.

Even in a clear open invitation to bash Hamilton for his personal mistakes during this year’s season, Rangers owner Nolan Ryan elected to take the high road. ESPN Dallas’ Richard Durrett asked the owner if he thought his starting centerfielder quit on his club down the stretch, to which Ryan replied:

“If he would have gotten a couple of hits in those key situations or if he hadn’t dropped that ball in Oakland, would people be saying that? No, they wouldn’t be saying that. It didn’t look good. But do I think he quit? I have no reason to think he quit.”

There will likely need to be a few promises made to get Hamilton back in a Rangers cap for next year, but this team can shell out the money. It also has a whole offseason to re-tool the pitching staff that still needs help.

Lance Pugmire of The Los Angeles Times believes that Hamilton “has earned a deal in the eight-year, $160-million neighborhood.” That seems like a price that the Rangers will be forced to offer to get Hamilton back and one that some teams could easily offer more than.

But the Rangers have a team that is just a few pieces away from winning the World Series in the years to come, and there aren’t a whole lot of teams who can say that around the MLB. Hamilton can’t find a much better situation than the one he currently has in Texas, and if it means taking less money to stay there, he should.

Ryan’s team deserves a little bit of a hometown discount considering that Hamilton’s best years of baseball were spent with this ball club. Loyalty may not mean as much as it used to, but loyalty and a fair multimillion dollar offer should be one that Hamilton agrees to.

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