Josh Hamilton: Rangers get first shot

While he says his loyalty is to the Texas Rangers, outfielder Josh Hamilton made it clear Monday that it would be in the team's best interests financially to re-sign him sooner rather than later.

"Free agency is free agency," Hamilton told ESPN analyst Jim Bowden on his "Inside Pitch" radio show on Sirius XM satellite radio. "If they sign me now, it'd probably cost less. If they sign me there (free agency), it'd cost more. So we'll see.

"Obviously, I told the Rangers that they get first shot, and I mean that. I have loyalty to the Rangers. They've been good to me and my family, and it's been a good relationship."

Hamilton will be a free agent after the 2012 season. Negotiations between his agent and the Rangers were shelved in early February after Hamilton had a relapse with alcohol.

The outfielder has been troubled by drugs and alcohol throughout his professional career. Hamilton had said he didn't expect to get into any long-term contract negotiations with the club this spring but hasn't closed the door to negotiating during the season.

The 2010 AL MVP played only 133 games last season, hitting 25 home runs and driving in 94 runs, and said he was hampered by a sports hernia for the better part of the season.