On Friday it was reported that the Angels and Rangers had agreed to a trade for Josh Hamilton. The deal is now done and the details announced: it’s for a player to be named later or cash considerations. There will be a press conference at 4:30 Eastern time, and presumably the details will be confirmed then or shortly thereafter.
As for now, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that the Rangers will “pick up a small portion” of the remainder of Hamilton’s salary with the Angels responsible for the rest of the $83 million still owed. On Friday it was reported that the Rangers’ amount could be as low as $7 million for the remaining three years. There have also been reports that Hamilton can opt-out of his deal after the 2016 season.
Which, boy-howdy, is not a lot for a guy who could still be a good player. It basically means the Angels just gave up on the guy and gave up on their belief, however erroneous it was, that they could go after Hamilton for the money they still owed him under some sort of “bad behavior” clause in his deal. Now the Angels will be on the hook for the vast majority of the money he is owed and get nothing, it seems, in return.
Of course, given the events of the past several weeks, one suspects that Hamilton and the Angels would do just about anything to be rid of one another.
Following Hamilton’s admission of a drug relapse in late February, Major League Baseball held an arbitration in order to determine if he should be disciplined. Hamilton prevailed and faced no punishment, but the Angels were clearly dissatisfied with the results. In the wake of the ruling, multiple team officials issued public statements criticizing the arbitrator’s ruling and Hamilton’s behavior. Since then, Angels owner Arte Moreno has refused to state publicly if Hamilton would ever play for the Angels again. Hamilton’s locker was given to another player and all Hamilton merchandise had been removed from the Angels’ team store. Two weeks ago it was reported that Hamilton had placed his Orange County home up for sale.
Moreno has suggested to the press that the Angels possessed the legal right to claw back money from Hamilton pursuant to special substance abuse provisions in Hamilton’s contract and language which requires that Hamilton be in “first-class condition.” Sources familiar with the contract told NBC Sports two weeks ago, however, that no such provisions exist which would supersede the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement. The players union has likewise said that Joint Drug Agreement, which Hamilton has been found not to have violated, trumps any contract language to which Moreno may be referring. Last week Hamilton’s teammates who met with him in his Houston-area home told the Los Angeles Times that Hamilton was in excellent physical condition and eager to begin playing again.
This deal puts an end to that acrimony. And puts Josh Hamilton back in Texas, where he rose to his greatest heights as a major leaguer. In five seasons with the Rangers Hamilton hit .305/.363/.549 with 142 home runs and 506 RBI. He led the Rangers to two American League pennants and won the 2010 MVP award and batting title while likewise leading the league in OPS.
While Hamilton’s exit from Texas was a rocky one, a lot has happened since then. Hamilton, following two awful seasons and this latest drama, has been humbled. The Rangers are no longer a winning team. A reunion may not make the most baseball sense, but a commitment of only $7 million for a potential impact bat is not that much, and the reunion may not be the worst thing for a club and a player each of which could use something of a fresh start.