Josh Hamilton, Rangers talk 2-year deal

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton said Monday that the club has discussed a two-year deal that would cover his arbitration years.

Hamilton and the Rangers have yet to come to terms on a one-year contract for the 2011 season and have until Feb. 14 to reach an agreement or go to an arbitration hearing.

The reigning AL MVP said the idea of a two-year deal was "thrown out there" by the Rangers a few days ago and that the main focus remains on the 2011 contract.

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

Hamilton and the Rangers exchanged salary figures for 2011 last month and were $3.3 million apart (Hamilton wants $12 million and the club offered $8.7 million). He said he's still bracing for a hearing but that the communication lines are still active.

"We're still talking, trying to work some things out," Hamilton said. "You brace for it [a hearing] and if it happens you're ready for it and if it doesn't happen, that's what everybody wants anyway is for it not to happen. You brace for the worst and hope and expect for the best.

"I really haven't concerned myself much with it. I've talked to my agent when he calls. I don't call every day and pester him to find out what's going on. We'll get something figured out hopefully and if not, we'll go to Arizona [where the hearing would be held]."

Hamilton did express optimism about recent discussions.

"The talks have gotten better and I feel like we're moving in the right direction toward each other, so that's obviously a positive," Hamilton said.

If it does go to a hearing, a three-person panel would determine whether Hamilton would be paid what he's offering or what the Rangers are offering and nothing in between.

"We've had productive, positive conversations with Mike Moye, Josh's agent," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Monday. "It's 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. We would certainly prefer to avoid the arbitration process. There's a spirit of cooperation of trying to get something done."

Hamilton hit a league-best .359 in 2010 with 32 homers and 100 RBIs. He was named the MVP despite missing most of the last month of the season with cracked ribs sustained when he hit the wall at Target Field in Minnesota.

He said he has gained the weight back that he lost from his bout with pneumonia earlier this offseason and is at 233 pounds. He added that he'd like to gain between five and seven pounds before spring training starts.

"The reason I'd like to be heavier is you obviously lose weight when you play here in the summer months," Hamilton said.

Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com.