Josh Hamilton signed a five-year, $125 million contract with the Angels prior to the 2013 season. The expectation being that he’d continue piling up huge numbers as he had in Texas and help lead Los Angeles to the World Series.
Unfortunately, that’s not exactly the way things have gone for Hamilton or the Angels.
Following two consecutive seasons of lackluster performance, it’s beginning to sound as though the Angels are looking for a way out of the deal.
That’s the take in the latest inbox feature from Angels beat writer, Alden Gonzalez:
FOXSports.com reported recently that the Angels discussed a possible Hamilton trade with at least the Rangers and Padres this offseason. And though those talks were merely exploratory and didn’t gain much traction, FOXSports.com heard enough to be convinced Hamilton will not finish out his five-year contract with the Angels — like Vernon Wells and Gary Matthews Jr. before him.
I would lean in that direction, too. But there is so much in favor of the Angels at least waiting to see what the 2015 season brings first. Hamilton’s value probably can’t get any lower, because of his .255/.316/.426 slash line the last two years coupled with the $90.2 million he’s owed over the next three.
Gonzalez makes it clear that there aren’t any personal or clubhouse issues with Hamilton in Los Angeles, it’s merely a case of lagging production and the situation perhaps not being a right fit for either party involved.
Hamilton’s production since joining the Angels has been underwhelming by most standards, but is exacerbated by the substantial size of his contract. Hamilton will make $23 million in 2015 before earning $30 million in 2016 and 2017.
That’s a lot of coin for a guy performing like a good fourth outfielder instead of an elite, MVP-caliber outfielder.
When they signed him, the Angels were taking a gamble given Hamilton’s injury-riddled past, but no one expected him to crater this quickly and turn into a full-on liability.
At this point, in the interest of keeping him on the field, he’d likely need to be moved to an American League club where he could spend some of his time at designated hitter.
Tampa Bay and Baltimore are both in need of power and/or upgrades at DH and in the outfield, but Los Angeles would need to eat the bulk of the contract before either team would take on Hamilton.
The Rangers are a possibility. Hamilton had his greatest success in Texas and the club could use a spark following a season devastated by injuries. At his current level of production, however, it’s hard to see Texas biting without the Angels covering the bulk of his salary and it’s hard to imagine the Halos want to pay someone to play for a division rival.
It’s also worth noting that Hamilton has full no-trade protection in his contract and will need to approve any deal before he’s moved. If he feels that the move to Los Angeles isn’t the right fit, that might be a bit easier, but he was very selective in free agency two years ago and might not be interested in moving to another club and starting over once again.
As it stands right now, Hamilton and the Angels are best-served giving him some time to try to get things back on track and recoup some value. At that point the club and the player can reevaluate if he’s worth keeping in LA or if a trade is the best option.
Hamilton’s story has been one of loss, addiction, redemption, and triumph throughout his life and career. This fan hopes he can get it back on track for one hell of a final chapter.