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Josh Hamilton Rumors
The Rangers will activate outfielder Josh Hamilton on Monday, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. GM Jon Daniels has announced that Hamilton is “physically and game ready” per Wilson (via Twitter). The Angels are on the hook for most of the remaining salary on his contract. Hamilton is hoping to rebound from a couple sub-par seasons by his standards. Statistically, 2013 was his worst season on a rate basis, and he was still five percent better than the average hitter. His rehab work produced mixed results. He battered Double-A pitching (9-for-17), but scuffled in Triple-A action (7-for-29).
- Ryan Howard has recovered some trade value after a hot month of hitting, writes Corey Seidman of CSN Philly. The Phillies‘ first baseman has hit 10 home runs with 21 RBI and a .303 average over his last 30 games. Seidman identifies three clubs as potential fits for Howard – the Angels, Rays, and Twins. The Angels have struggled mightily against right-handed pitching. They could easily insert Howard into the designated hitter slot to help solve that issue. The Rays and Twins have performed better overall, but both clubs have received poor production from their designated hitters. I happen to agree with Seidman’s analysis and even tabbed Minnesota as a potential fit for Howard earlier this evening.
- Shohei Otani could be the next Japanese star to transition to the majors, writes Jim Caple of ESPN. The 20-year-old is still three to four seasons from being posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters. He owns a 2.71 ERA with 274 strikeouts in 259 innings. The righty can reach back for 100 mph heat, but he also displays solid ability at the plate. In between starts, he plays about three to four games a week in the field. In 485 plate appearances, he’s hit .253/.303/.445 with 15 home runs. Major league teams will be more interested in his triple-digit heater, but pitchers like Madison Bumgarner can tell you about the value of an offensive presence in the nine-hole.
Thanks in part to revenue sharing, the Marlins remain profitable, and Jeffrey Loria’s fellow owners might take issue with his indecisive and costly approach to building a team, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. The Marlins are now paying two former managers who are still under contract (Mike Redmond and Ozzie Guillen), plus former executives Larry Beinfest and Jim Fleming. They’re also paying former catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia through next season. Meanwhile, their attendance remains poor despite the recent opening of Marlins Park. Here’s more from throughout the game.
- Redmond’s firing demonstrates the Marlins’ inability to follow a steady course, Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports writes. The manager the Marlins hire tomorrow will be their eighth in the last decade, the others being Jack McKeon, Joe Girardi, Fredi Gonzalez, Edwin Rodriguez, McKeon again, Guillen and Redmond.
- Montreal mayor Denis Coderre will meet with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on May 28, and he plans to convey to Manfred the city’s love for baseball, the Associated Press reports. Montreal, of course, hasn’t had a team since the Expos were moved to Washington following the 2004 season. Coderre would like for big-league baseball to return, but it sounds like he expects it will be awhile before that can happen. “I don’t want to negotiate openly, but we’ll clearly talk about Montreal,” he says. “We need a step-by-step approach. You don’t pull the flower to make it grow faster.”
- The Greenville Drive, the Red Sox‘ Class A affiliate, have announced that Yoan Moncada will make his professional debut Monday night, playing second base. The 19-year-old Cuban phenom had been in extended spring training. Red Sox fans will surely be paying close attention to tomorrow’s box score, hoping for hints as to what to expect from Moncada, who officially signed for a $31.5MM bonus in mid-March.
- Josh Hamilton hasn’t yet joined the Rangers, but he’s happy to be back in the Dallas area on a rehab assignment with Double-A Frisco, Ryan Gerbosi of the Dallas Morning News writes. “It’s been a good reception,” says Hamilton. “It’s been good to hear a little twang in people’s voices and just go out there and it’s just a good feeling.” Hamilton, who has also played a handful of games for Triple-A Round Rock, doubled today in his second game with the RoughRiders and appears close to a return from his shoulder injury.
- 19-year-old lefty Cionel Perez has left Cuba in search of a deal with a big-league team, but MLB’s registration rules will be an obstacle, Ben Badler of Baseball America writes. (Perez’s departure from Cuba was originally reported by MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez.) Badler notes that Perez isn’t a top-tier prospect, but he has improved his standing lately and had become one of the better pitchers in Cuba before his departure. (Badler notes in a subscriber-only scouting report that Perez is small, at 5-foot-10, but has added velocity lately and is now throwing in the low 90s.) Because Perez was born after September 1, 1995, though, and has not yet registered with the commissioner’s office, he will not be eligible to sign until the international signing period that begins next July. Once he’s eligible, he will be subject to rules regarding international bonus pools.
Ollie Brown, known to the San Diego faithful as the “Original Padre” has died of complications from mesothelioma, reports Corey Brock of MLB.com. The outfielder was the first player selected by the Padres in the 1968 Expansion Draft. Brown hit 52 home runs in parts of four seasons with the Padres including 23 blasts in 1970. Brown was 71 and is survived by two brothers, a wife, a daughter, and five grandchildren. We at MLBTR wish to extend our condolences to Brown’s family and friends.
- Cuban outfielder Eddy Julio Martinez could sign for $10MM, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. The 20-year-old is subject to the international spending pool which could affect the bidding. Among the interested teams include the Braves, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, Nationals, and Diamondbacks. New York and Arizona may have an advantage since they’ve already exceeded their bonus pool. Chicago won’t be able to jump into the bidding until July 2nd. It was reported two days ago that Martinez could sign as early as next week.
- While still with the Angels, Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton repeatedly tried to reach out to owner Arte Moreno, writes Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. Instead, Hamilton says his efforts were blocked by GM Jerry Dipoto and team President John Carpino. Hamilton attempted to contact Moreno regarding his poor performance last season and again after his offseason relapse. The embattled slugger is currently rehabbing in Double-A and could return to major league action soon. Los Angeles is responsible for most of the remaining $80MM on his contract.
The Angels signing of Josh Hamilton has set the franchise back in ways other than financial, opines Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. During the 2012 offseason, the Angels decided to invest their payroll in Hamilton rather than make a serious bid to retain Zack Greinke. The five-year, $125MM contract forced GM Jerry DiPoto to cut corners when building his pitching staff for the 2013 sesaon and eventually he had to deal bats like Mark Trumbo and Howie Kendrick to acquire young arms (Hector Santiago, Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Heaney) over the next two offseasons. Shaikin posits the Angels’ lineup is a Mike Trout injury away from being devasted.
Elsewhere in the American League:
- With public criticism mounting against White Sox manager Robin Ventura, first baseman Jose Abreu came to the defense of his skipper, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune tweets. “If the people want someone to blame, it’s the players, not Robin,” Abreu said.
- Twins Rule 5 pick J.R. Graham is here to stay, manager Paul Molitor tells reporters, including Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press (on Twitter). “He’s going to be here all year,” the manager said. Graham threw two scoreless innings to close out the Twins’ 13-3 beating of the White Sox this afternoon.
- The Rangers will have a logjam at first base once Mitch Moreland recovers from his elbow surgery, but they won’t be able to move some of the surplus to the outfield because of the injury history of Moreland and Kyle Blanks, reports Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News. Moreland says there was only one bone chip (a little bigger than the size of a watermelon seed) that needed to be removed from his elbow, tweets FOXSportsSouthwest.com’s Anthony Andro.
- Indications are the continuing waiver wire saga of outfielder Alex Hassan (who has been claimed five times over the past seven months after being picked up by the A’s yesterday) will prompt the MLBPA to make this an issue during the next round of collective bargaining, according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. The concern is the procedural movement hampers a prospect’s development, a sentiment echoed by Hassan. “You’re just behind,” Hassan said. “Do I prefer to be claimed by another team and have to break my lease and have to move my family and have to go find another apartment and take another short-term lease and get settled — and have to perform right away, knowing you’re the last guy on the 40-man roster? Or would it be better to stay where you are and get some stability and hopefully play well enough to where you might earn your way back up there? I don’t know the answer to that.“
In the wake of Josh Hamilton‘s departure from the Angels, his five-year, $125MM deal with the club may be the worst free agent signing of all time, ESPN’s Jayson Stark opines. The Hamilton deal tops Stark’s list of the five worst signings ever, which also includes another ongoing contract in Melvin Upton Jr.‘s five-year, $72.25MM pact with the Braves. Two other current deals receive dishonorable mentions: Shin-Soo Choo‘s seven year, $130MM contract with the Rangers is cited as a “disaster in the making,” while Alex Rodriguez‘s ten-year, $275MM contract with the Yankees is a “category unto himself.”
Here’s more from around the baseball world…
- The Angels seem likely to make a trade for left field help, according to MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez, though such a move isn’t likely to happen for at least another month. Acquiring a new left fielder to replace Hamilton would allow the Halos to shift Matt Joyce and C.J. Cron into a platoon at DH.
- David Price said he hasn’t “heard anything” new about extension talks with the Tigers, the southpaw told Mlive.com’s Chris Iott (Twitter link).
- Teams are looking at the Brewers as the first team who could start selling, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. One executive speculated that Milwaukee could make everyone available except Jonathan Lucroy and Jimmy Nelson. Sherman thinks Carlos Gomez could be a big trade chip if the Brewers decide on a full rebuild and don’t think they can sign Gomez to an extension.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman is satisfied with Stephen Drew and isn’t looking for any internal replacements at second base, he tells ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand. Drew is hitting .177/.274/.419 with four homers in 74 plate appearances and has posted below-average defensive numbers as a second baseman. Despite Drew’s numbers, Jose Pirela‘s concussion recovery and Rob Refsnyder‘s defensive issues have left the Yankees without a ready replacement for the veteran.
- In his latest Insider-only piece, ESPN’s Jim Bowden gives his opinion on how five struggling teams can solve their problems. One suggested fix, for the Nationals, is simply to do nothing; Bowden thinks the front office should wait until everyone is healthy before deciding if changes need to be made.
Right-hander David Aardsma has a May 1 opt-out on his Minor League pact with the Dodgers, Jacob Unruh of NewsOK.com reported yesterday. Aardsma can opt out on Friday if another club wants him on its Major League roster, and he has a complete opt-out from the Dodgers on June 15, per Unruh. The 33-year-old veteran didn’t make the club’s bullpen out of Spring Training despite strong numbers, but he’s continued to pitch effectively, yielding one run on five hits with six strikeouts and no walks in seven Triple-A innings. Aardsma hasn’t logged significant big league action since 2013, but he pitched quite well for the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate last year (1.48 ERA, 38-to-18 K/BB ratio in 37 innings) before a groin injury sidelined him for the season’s second half. The Dodgers’ bullpen has been surprisingly dominant despite incurring significant injuries, and with Kenley Jansen nearing a return, things will get even more crowded, further blocking Aardsma’s path to L.A. It wouldn’t be a shock for one of the many teams around the league in need of ‘pen help to look at the former Mariners closer as a potential upgrade.
Here’s more on the Dodgers…
- The Dodgers were involved in trade talks regarding Josh Hamilton before he was moved to the Rangers, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, the Dodgers were more interested in acting as a third party with the Angels and Rangers, contributing cash to the deal as a means of acquiring prospects to add to their farm system. The Dodgers also discussed a straight up deal to acquire Hamilton, according to Heyman, but even in that scenario they’d likely have just flipped Hamilton to the Rangers in the long run, as they weren’t interested in adding to their outfield glut. This marks another effort by the Dodgers’ new front office to use the team’s financial muscle to bolster the farm system in a unique way. The Dodgers already essentially bought a draft pick by agreeing to take on Ryan Webb‘s $2.75MM salary from the Orioles in order to convince Baltimore to part with a Competitive Balance draft selection.
- Left-hander Hyun-jin Ryu is at least a month away from rejoining the Dodgers’ roster, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweeted yesterday. The loss of Ryu for nearly two months and of Brandon McCarthy for the entire season has thinned out the Dodger rotation considerably, though president of baseball ops Andrew Friedman recently stated that he was likely to utilize internal options until at least June as he assessed what the team had in-house.
In the press conference announcing the deal that sent Josh Hamilton from the Angels back to the Rangers, the slugger explained that he wishes he never left Texas, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. GM Jon Daniels, who explained that it was “a pretty easy decision” to add a player of Hamilton’s ability. (Though he did not say so explicitly, the slight investment required obviously played a significant role.) For his part, Hamilton expressed disappointment with how his tenure with the Angels ended, saying that he had worked hard there even if the results were disappointing.
We already ran some early reactions to the deal before it was finalized. Here are some more notes and reactions from around the game:
- Grant breaks down the support system and plan that the Rangers hope will allow them to keep Hamilton healthy and focused. In terms of timing, Hamilton will report immediately to extended spring training and head shortly thereafter to Triple-A for a rehab stint. The Rangers are targeting a return to big league action in mid to late May, says Daniels, with Grant pegging the club’s May 11-17 homestand as a possible debut.
- Before the deal was consummated with the Rangers, Hamilton used his no-trade protection to block a deal that would have sent him to a National League club, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter link). While that proposal would not have required Hamilton to give up any salary, the 33-year-old was willing to sacrifice cash to facilitate a return to Texas.
- Some players around the game are unhappy with the way the Angels handled Hamilton’s relapse, tweets Rosenthal. In particular, perceptions are that the club violated the confidentiality provisions of the Joint Drug Agreement.
- This deal is not really the win-win it is being made out to be, argues Rosenthal, who labels it “an ugly divorce, a forced second marriage, a series of events that never should have been set in motion.”
- Meanwhile, MLB.com’s Lyle Spencer suggests that the Halos may have been acting with a higher purpose in making the deal, because there is a real risk that it will blow back from a baseball perspective.
- Relieving themselves of some $20MM in salary obligations does not make a Huston Street extension any more likely for the Angels, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets. That decision will come down to the club’s assessment of the reliever’s worth, it appears; it is worth noting, of course, that Street has enhanced his value with an excellent start.
- My take: with Hamilton apparently determined to return to the Rangers, and the Angels committed not to continue their relationship, this was obviously the best that Los Angeles could do. Had the team simply cut bait with Hamilton, he would have been free to sign with the Rangers for the league minimum salary. Of course, it remains fair to debate whether the Angels could or should have given Hamilton another chance to make good on his deal, but the club did at least ensure that he landed in the best possible situation. For Texas, meanwhile, the move has plenty of upside — both on the field and in the ticket office — which more than justifies the marginal financial risk.
7:02pm: The Angels will actually save approximately $20MM in total on the deal, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Texas will pick up about $6MM of the tab, with the remainder of the savings coming from Hamilton sacrificing salary, per the report.
The $20MM is spread unevenly over the three years covered by the contract, per Fletcher. He adds that the deal “likely” has language providing that the Angels would recoup additional money if Hamilton loses pay due to suspension.
After starting the season about $12.5MM under the luxury cap for the current year, the Halos now have closer to $20MM in space, per MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (via Twitter). That extra cushion could make the Halos an even more active buyer on the summer trade market than had already been expected.
3:17pm: The wording of the deal — “in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations” — is a mere formality, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. A source tells Wilson that the Rangers aren’t giving up anything of real value to acquire Hamilton.
2:34pm: The Rangers announced today that they have re-acquired outfielder Josh Hamilton from the Angels in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations. The Rangers will also be receiving cash from the Angels, the team added, and previous reports have indicated that Texas will be on the hook for less than $7MM of the money that is he owed. To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, right-hander Nick Tepesch has been transferred to the 60-day DL.
The transaction represents a homecoming of sorts for Hamilton, who was named the American League MVP as a member of the Rangers in 2010 and appeared in five consecutive All-Star games with Texas from 2008-12. The Rangers will reportedly pay Hamilton just $2-3MM of what he’s owed, and Hamilton will give up about $6MM worth of guaranteed money, which will be offset by the lack of income tax in the state of Texas. The Angels are saving somewhere in the vicinity of $8MM of what he’s owed over the rest of his contract, and the deal has reportedly been restructured to give Hamilton an opt-out clause with a significant buyout following the 2016 season.
Hamilton’s return to Texas was, of course, prompted by a relapse into substance abuse this offseason that led to a perhaps too-public look into the outfielder’s personal life and created a great deal of drama and controversy. After a panel composed of two league officials and two players union representatives deadlocked on whether or not Hamilton had violated his treatment program with the relapse, an arbitrator ruled that he had not, and therefore could not be suspended by the league. The news came as a surprise to many, and reports indicated that commissioner Rob Manfred had indeed intended to suspend Hamilton before the arbitrator eliminated that as a possibility. While the factors that led to the ruling remain unknown, Hamilton likely helped his cause by coming forth voluntarily and admitting his relapse.
Today’s trade brings to a close a tenure with the Angels that was marred not only by this most recent controversy, but also by injuries and a failure to live up to the lofty expectations that came along with his hefty five-year, $125MM contract. Hamilton was not entirely unproductive for the Halos, as his .255/.316/.426 batting line translated to a 110 OPS+. However, the level of production that he provided certainly didn’t line up with his average annual salary of $25MM, or even the $34MM he received in 2013-14 on the backloaded contract. The Angels, of course, will remain on the hook for the majority of that salary.
Hamilton and the Rangers will both hope that a return to a familiar environment will help to rekindle some of the production that made him one of the most feared hitters in baseball for half a decade. From 2008-12, .305/.363/.549, averaging 28 homers per season and 36 per 162 games played. Once he’s fully recovered from shoulder surgery, which should be in mid-to-late May, Hamilton will presumably slide into left field. Texas currently has little in the way of long-term options at the position, with the possible exception of Ryan Rua, who is currently on the shelf sprained ankle and a fracture in his right foot. Opposite Hamilton will be another corner outfielder whose production has yet to live up to his eye-popping contract — Shin-Soo Choo. That Rangers’ hopes for contention in the near future will now be tied to the performance of that duo, as well as first baseman Prince Fielder, as the three under-performing but well-compensated former All-Stars have each been shadows of their former selves in recent years.
Of course, though Hamilton hasn’t been gone from the Rangers for that long, the organization still looks markedly different than it did in his final year. Manager Ron Washington abruptly resigned late last season, and he’s since been replaced by Jeff Banister, whose hiring prompted former bench coach (and managerial hopeful) Tim Bogar to join the Angels. Michael Young has retired, while Ian Kinsler has been traded to the Tigers. Nelson Cruz has signed a pair of free agent contracts with other teams since Hamilton’s departure, and Mike Napoli is in his third year with the Red Sox. The team is not without its share of familiar faces for Hamilton, however, as he’ll be reunited with the likes of Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Leonys Martin, Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland and Colby Lewis, among others.
Billy Casey of Shutdown Inning and Brandon Land of One Strike Away first reported trade talks between the two sides more than a week ago. SI.com’s Michael McCann reported that the Angels could part with him in a matter of days, and FOX’s Ken Rosenthal reported that a trade was looming (Twitter links). MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan first tweeted that a trade to the Rangers was close, and CBS’ Jon Heyman added that an agreement was in place. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News and Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram each added details on the financial components of the trade, with Grant adding mention of the opt-out clause. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweeted that everything was done, pending league approval, and MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez was the first to tweet that the deal would be likely announced on Monday. Heyman tweeted shortly before the announcement that the deal had been finalized.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Center fielder Roemon Fields went undrafted out of college and spent the summer of 2013 working in a mall and delivering mail, but a former coach’s invitation to play in the World Baseball Challenge led to him being signed by the Blue Jays, Shi Davidi writes for Baseball America (subscription-only). Roemon’s brother Anthony urged him to play. “He kept telling me, ‘Just go,’ and I kept telling him, ‘I think I’m done with baseball. I gave it a try in college,'” says Fields. “I hadn’t hit in months, hadn’t thrown, went out there and I guess played pretty good.” Now that Fields is in the Jays’ system, it’s unclear whether he’s a prospect, but if he does get to the big leagues, it will probably be due in large part to his speed — he stole a remarkable 48 bases in 328 plate appearances in short-season Vancouver last year, leading the Jays to promote him all the way up to Class A+ Dunedin this season. Here’s more from around the American League.
- GM Ben Cherington says the Red Sox want to draft and develop more players like the versatile and effective Brock Holt, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes. “There are guys who are good players and talented but have a harder time staying productive if they’re moving around in the field a lot and there are other guys who seem able to do it, and Holt’s one of those guys, clearly,” says Cherington. “(Holt’s skillset) has always been important, but with the challenges everyone faces of keeping teams and players healthy through a season and getting through the grind, those guys are becoming more and more important.” Cherington notes that it’s crucial to get players rest, so players who can man several positions while hitting reasonably well are especially valuable. The Red Sox are considering the possibility of drafting a player this June, likely after the first round, who they might develop with the goal of turning into the next Holt. So far this season, Holt has played second base, shortstop, third base, left field and center field while getting 14 hits in his first 33 at bats.
- The Rangers likely represent Josh Hamilton‘s last clear chance of reestablishing himself in the big leagues, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale writes. The Rangers appear likely to be getting Hamilton at such a steep discount that he can be a good value for them even if he’s just a bench player. Meanwhile, though, they’ll also have to try to help him as he battles addiction issues that have now caused problems at several points in his career.
SUNDAY 10:24pm: The deal is likely to be completed Monday, Gonzalez tweets.
7:19pm: The Angels indicate that they do not expect to have any announcements today, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets. That suggests that the trade won’t become official until Monday or later.
SATURDAY: The Rangers are still awaiting approval on the rumored Josh Hamilton deal, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Sullivan’s source with the Rangers see no impediment to finalizing the agreement. As Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets, the swap is slow moving because it involves five parties – the Angels, Rangers, Hamilton, the commissioner’s office, and the players’ union.
The Rangers are expected to cover about $7MM of the roughly $82MM remaining on his contract. Since Texas has no income tax, Hamilton is reportedly willing to renegotiate the size of his contract. Per Sullivan, the club is eager to complete the trade. Hamilton is in the midst of rehab for a shoulder injury. The Rangers would like to get him out to their Arizona facility at the earliest opportunity.
Some might recall that Hamilton was “booed out of Texas,” writes Yahoo’s Tim Brown. However, he’ll be quickly forgiven if he helps the anemic Rangers offense produce some runs. Per Brown, his former teammates are looking forward to reuniting with Hamilton. Many hope that he can fall back into his old support system. That could help him focus on health and production.
The Rangers are the beneficiaries of the “arrogance” of Angels owner Arte Moreno, opines Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register. Moreno was the one who wanted to acquire Hamilton in the first place. GM Jerry Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia would have happily added Hamilton’s bat to the lineup, so the decision to discard him must have come from Moreno. It’s fair to wonder if Moreno should take a lighter hand in the Angels’ baseball operations.
Surprisingly, the move makes sense for all five parties involved, writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The Rangers take a minimal risk on a guy who was a core component of several successful seasons. The $6MM Hamilton will forgo doesn’t devalue his deal due to the different income tax laws. The MLBPA is looking out for Hamilton’s welfare even though they’re usually against restructuring contracts. Meanwhile, the Angels and the commissioner’s office avoid a potentially embarrassing situation.