Angels offiically send Hamilton back to Rangers …
Josh Hamilton‘s tumultuous stint in Southern California is over.
On Monday afternoon, the Angels and Rangers completed a trade that sent Hamilton back to Arlington and gave his most recent employers some salary relief. The deal was first reported on Friday, but the financial complexities that came with it — the Rangers sent money to the Angels and Hamilton agreed to give up some of his earnings — created a lag.
In the trade, a source said the Rangers will pay the Angels $2 million to $3 million in each of the remaining three years of Hamilton’s contract, which owed him $90.2 million through the 2017 season, including the signing bonus that was spread out over the course of the deal. Hamilton will reportedly sacrifice $6 million of his own, made up for by the fact Texas has no state income tax.
The release said the Angels received “a player to be named later or cash considerations,” but Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said that has yet to be determined.
“The best interest in the Angels’ organization,” Dipoto added, “was to move on.”
The Angels next play the Rangers on July 3-5, in Arlington.
“If I could put my finger on why Josh had a tough time here, we may have been able to help him solve those issues,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said on a conference call. “And I’m sure if he could put a finger on why it was such a struggle for him here, I’m sure he would’ve been able to contribute more than he did. But at the end of the day, this decision is about our 25-man roster, our organization, the health of this group as we move forward. We’re going to part ways with Josh Hamilton, let him rejoin the Texas Rangers, and we’re going to focus on Angels baseball as we move forward.”
Hamilton — the No. 1 overall Draft pick out of high school in 1999, before drug and alcohol addiction kept him out of baseball for three years — tapped into his potential with the Rangers, who initially acquired him from the Reds in December 2007.
From 2008-12 in Texas, Hamilton started five straight All-Star Games, played in back-to-back World Series and won the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award. He batted .305/.363/.549 in that five-year span, averaging 28 homers and 101 RBIs per season. But his production slipped considerably after a signing a five-year, $125 million contract with the Angels in December 2012.
During his introductory press conference at Globe Life Park, Hamilton said if he had to do it over again, “I probably wouldn’t have gone anywhere; I probably would’ve stayed here.”
“When it was made aware to me that the Angels wanted to move me, my first choice was the Rangers,” Hamilton said. “I’ve had a lot of good memories here.”
The 33-year-old outfielder batted .255/.316/.426 over the last two years, averaging 16 homers and 62 RBIs per season. He went 0-for-13 in the 2014 AL Division Series, generating boos from Angels fans.
Hamilton has been rehabbing from Feb. 4 surgery to his right shoulder in Houston all year, away from the team. His relationship with the Angels’ front office became contentious after he had a drug relapse late in the offseason.
An arbitrator ruled on April 3 that Hamilton did not violate the terms of his treatment program, mainly because he self-reported the relapse to Major League Baseball before a failed test; the Angels were openly upset by the decision. President John Carpino said the ruling “defies logic” and general manager Jerry Dipoto expressed the club’s “disappointment” in Hamilton’s actions with a statement.
The team did not issue Hamilton a locker at its Spring Training facility or at Angel Stadium, and promptly pulled all of his merchandise and likeness from the ballpark. Prior to the home opener on April 10, Angels owner Arte Moreno declined to say Hamilton would play for his team again and added that he hasn’t spoken to Hamilton since the end of the 2014 season.
Asked why, Moreno said, “Probably disappointment.”
Asked his reaction for those comments on Monday, Hamilton said, “I have no clue what he’s talking about.”
“Going into this season, I hadn’t been the player that they wanted me to be,” Hamilton continued. “I know I hadn’t been. But I worked my butt off to be that guy, this year, going into the season for the Angels. They just didn’t want that to happen for some reason. It doesn’t hurt my feelings, it doesn’t make me mad or anything like that. But I prepared. He knew what the deal was when he signed me. Hands down. He knew what he was getting, he knew what the risks were, he knew all those things. Under the [Joint Drug Agreement], it is what it is.”
Later in the press conference, Hamilton had asked if he’d still be with the Angels if they had been more accepting of his relapse.
“I would be,” he said. “I would’ve been in Spring Training, I would’ve rehabbed in Spring Training, and I would’ve been back [on the field] probably a month ago.”
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels expects Hamilton to be back on the field by the middle or end of May. Hamilton has been hitting and taking fly balls, but said he needs to get used to running around with spikes for an extended period of time.
He also said he has gone back to his support group from before 2012, which means, among other things, hiring Shayne Kelley back as his accountability partner. Hamilton is now getting tested five times a week, up from three.
Dipoto was asked on the conference call if this is a move that can come back to haunt the Angels.
“Why would it come back to haunt us?” Dipoto asked, then was told he was trading Hamilton to a division rival and he may have some good years ahead of him.
“Again,” Dipoto said, “we’re comfortable with the decision here.”