Hamilton contract talks with Rangers progressing

AL MVP Josh Hamilton says contract talks with the Texas Rangers are "moving in the right direction" and that a two-year deal is possible.

While Hamilton and the AL champions have to settle his 2011 contract to avoid a salary arbitration hearing next week, a two-year deal would also cover Hamilton's other remaining arbitration season in 2012.

"The talks, they've obviously gotten better," Hamilton said Monday. "Like I've said before, it's not just about me and what I'm going to get, but it's about the guys coming after me and doing the same things for those guys that the guys in front of me did. The biggest thing is just being fair."

Hamilton said the team recently approached his agent, Mike Moye, about the possibility of a deal to cover his last two arbitration-eligible seasons. Hamilton's first chance to become a free agent won't come until after the 2012 season.

General manager Jon Daniels described recent conversations with Moye as "productive, positive."

"It'd be a little premature for me to tell you that we'll definitely get a deal done, but I feel like it's moving in that direction," Daniels said. "We'd surely prefer to avoid the arbitration process. I know Josh and his family and Mike would as well. That's kind of been the backdrop, and in the spirit of cooperation, we're trying to get something done."

If Hamilton and the Rangers can't at least settle on a 2011 contract, a salary arbitration hearing is scheduled next Monday in Phoenix. Hamilton has asked for $12 million, $3.3 million more than Texas offered.

Hamilton made $3.25 million last season, when he hit a major league-leading .359 with 32 homers and 100 RBIs despite missing most of the final month of the regular season with broken ribs. He returned for the last weekend of the regular season and the playoffs.

"The main focus right now is one year," the 29-year-old Hamilton said. "If two years get done, that's great. It's a plus and it takes a little stress off with this whole situation not having to happen next year."

The three-time All-Star has a .311 career average with 93 homers and 331 RBIs in 468 major league games, an incredible comeback for the former No. 1 overall draft pick whose career was derailed by his well-documented cocaine and alcohol addictions after he got hurt in the minors. He made his major league debut with Cincinnati in 2007, and he flourished after being traded to Texas.

Hamilton spent six days in the hospital last month with pneumonia and lost 10 pounds during his illness.

After working out with several teammates Monday, Hamilton said he was feeling "good, very good" and was back to 233 pounds after regaining his lost weight. He planned to put on a few more pounds before spring training.

"The bad weather we had put a little damper on the workouts. I did a little Chuck Norris action, Total Gym at home, and stationary bike," Hamilton said. "Went today and worked out with the guys, so it was good."