Desperate to get him off the roster, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have dealt outfielder Josh Hamilton to division rival Texas Rangers, putting an end to one of the more drama-filled stories of the MLB offseason.
Along with Hamilton, the Angels will send $76 million, which is about 90 percent of the money remaining on the five-year, $125 million pact Hamilton signed with Los Angeles in 2012, for cash considerations or a player to be named later, which is baseball’s way of saying nothing. Hamilton has allegedly agreed to return some of the money from his deal, but it is not known how much
The Angels got (and deserved) nothing out of this deal. While Hamilton did not play well with the Angels, batting just .255 with 31 home runs, the way the Angels conducted themselves as a franchise was much worse. Last February, while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, Hamilton, who is a known drug addict, relapsed and confessed this to MLB. Ultimately, an arbitrator ruled that Hamilton’s confession did not violate baseball’s drug policy and that he would not be suspended.
In what may be a first in sports, the Angels were actually upset that one of their players did not get suspended. Instead, team owner Arte Moreno ordered that Hamilton’s merchandise be pulled from the team stores and the Angels were even accused of leaking information from Hamilton’s confidential arbitration process. While the sources were never named, only one entity involved, the Angels, had something to gain from Hamilton being forced out of baseball. With his declining play and the team knocking on the luxury tax door, the Angels stood to benefit tremendously had Hamilton been suspended or forced out of the game, allowing the team to alleviate themselves of his contract.
In the end, the Angels killed Hamilton’s value by leaking the information (allegedly) and making it known to the public that they had no desire to see him in uniform again. And now they are stuck having to eat nearly all of his remaining salary while he attempts to reignite the best years of his career, which were in Texas. Hamilton also gained the ability to opt out his deal after 2016. If he chooses to do so, the Angels are on the hook for the buyout.
Hamilton’s contract is already seen as one of the worst in baseball history, but had the Angels handled Hamilton’s relapse differently, they may have been able to save face and some money. Instead, they shot themselves in the foot and must now live with it. If the Angels need to add another piece in order to make that final push for the World Series, they may be stuck paying the luxury tax now in order to do so.