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Josh Hamilton Rumors
SUNDAY 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.
SATURDAY 4:54pm: The Angels and Rangers have agreed to the deal, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times tweets. The deal still needs to be approved by the MLBPA and by MLB, however. There are no specific indications that will be a problem, but approval might not be as automatic, particularly in the union’s case, since Hamilton has reportedly agreed to forgo salary in the trade.
12:46pm: Hamilton would receive a significant buyout if he were to excercise his opt-out, Rosenthal tweets. That makes sense — if not for a buyout, there would be few scenarios in which it would make sense for Hamilton to opt out of the $30MM he’s set to make in 2017.
12:02pm: The Rangers will take on less than $7MM of Hamilton’s contract, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, meanwhile, writes that the Rangers will pay $2MM-$3MM. Hamilton will eat about $6MM of the contract himself, according to Grant, since he can make up at least some of the difference due to the fact that Texas does not have a state income tax. That means the Angels could still save $8MM-$13MM. Hamilton will also receive an opt-out clause after 2016.
FRIDAY 7:15pm: The talks are still “complex” and “volatile” and remain incomplete, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). If the deal is completed, the Rangers will take on less than $15MM and will not send any players to their division rivals.
Multiple reports indicate that the lack of state income tax in Texas is playing a role, with Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeting that Hamilton will cede some pay to make the deal work. Hamilton’s gains through tax avoidance would, presumably, even things out (to some extent, at least) on his end.
If the proposed transaction is indeed one in which the Rangers would assume some of the contract without sending anything in return, and in which Hamilton would give up some guaranteed money, it is not hard to see the complexities. Both the league and union would surely want to take a close look at a deal of that nature.
6:16pm: The Rangers will pick up about $15MM of Hamilton’s salary, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets. Los Angeles will pay the remainder of the $83MM that he is owed.
6:10pm: The deal “has been agreed to” though there remain several “ancillary” matters to be addressed, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.
5:31pm: The Rangers are nearing a trade to acquire Josh Hamilton, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports on Twitter. There is still “legal work” remaining before the deal can be finalized, but Sullivan says an announcement could come Monday.
The details of the arrangement remain unknown, but Shin-Soo Choo is not involved in the prospective trade, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Choo had at least appeared to be a plausible piece to be included in a deal given his huge salary and rather pronounced struggles.
Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes that Texas would either need to have virtually all of Hamilton’s salary covered — or, would add him if and when he negotiates a release. Indeed, per another Shaikin tweet, some cash savings for the Angels may the only substantial element in the deal.
Hamilton, 33, has disappointed in Los Angeles since inking a five-year, $125MM contract before the 2013 season. He has slashed .255/.316/.426 in a Halos cap, a useful enough line but hardly enough to justify his contract. Injuries dogged Hamilton last year, who is still working back from offseason shoulder surgery.
Of course, Hamilton earned that sizeable contract with his play in Texas, where he produced at a .305/.363/.549 clip for five seasons while swatting 142 long balls. Though he did not end his stint with the team on the best off terms, Hamilton will forever be associated with the Rangers — the place where he became a star.
As we noted yesterday, the Angels and Rangers are close to a deal that would send troubled outfielder Josh Hamilton back to Texas, with the Angels receiving $15MM or less in salary relief in return. The deal isn’t yet complete (and it’s easy to see why, given the complexity of dealing with the approximately $80MM on Hamilton’s contract), but here are a few early reactions.
- Given the reported terms of the deal, the Hamilton trade is a low-risk gambit by the Rangers, Dayn Perry of CBS Sports writes. Hamilton’s left-handed power should play better in the Rangers’ ballpark than it did in the Angels’, and also, Hamilton could prove to be more comfortable in Texas, where he produced many of his best seasons. Meanwhile, the $15MM or less the Rangers are reportedly taking on isn’t an exorbitant commitment.
- Arguing in a somewhat similar vein, Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News argues that the Rangers have little to lose from the trade. Hamilton won’t block any outfielders who are performing well, and the Rangers can provide a supportive environment that can help Hamilton as he battles his addiction issues.
- Hamilton’s Angels teammates hope he has good luck in Texas, Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times reports. “No matter what the situation is, Josh is going to pick up a 35-inch bat and go swing,” says C.J. Wilson. “That’s what he’s good at, and I think that’s what he needs to be doing right now.”
- Along with Gary Matthews Jr. and Vernon Wells, Hamilton will be the third high-priced outfielder in recent years who the Angels have traded with two or more years left on his deal, Bill Shaikin of the Times notes. The Angels just $2MM when they sent Matthews to the Mets, and $14MM when they shipped Wells to the Yankees.
4:57pm: Hamilton “balked” at a scenario that would have sent him to extended spring training, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets.
The Rangers, meanwhile, would be willing to bring Hamilton back, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com tweets. He cautions that there is “no word yet if that will happen.”
4:51pm: Hamilton will be moved via trade, Rosenthal tweets. It is not done yet, but appears likely to happen, he adds.
4:50pm: The Angels are “close to parting with” slugger Josh Hamilton, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports (via Twitter). Sports Illustrated’s Michael McCann wrote earlier today that it appeared a move that would sever ties between Hamilton and the club could be made within days.
Hamilton had been said to be preparing to work back from injury in extending spring training. His relationship with the team hit a low point when he admitted to an offseason drug relapse. Though the league pushed for a suspension, an arbitrator ultimately ruled that Hamilton had not violated his drug treatment program and thus could not be suspended.
The team’s negative reaction to the news that Hamilton would not be suspended certainly seemed to portend a possible end to the relationship. At the same time, it has been hard to see a way for the club to accomplish that other than simply cutting him loose.
Indeed, even now, it remains entirely unclear what action the team will ultimately pursue to finalize the separation. A trade is at least hypothetically possible, with a buyout of some kind perhaps making more intuitive sense at first glance.
The Angels have a tentative plan for Josh Hamilton‘s return, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports. Hamilton would report to the team’s extended Spring Training camp in Arizona for a 2-3 week stint, then a minor league rehabilitation assignment and then he’d potentially rejoin the Halos in early June. A source tells Shaikin that Hamilton is expected to report “sooner rather than later” to the extended spring camp, though nothing has been officially announced yet.
Angels GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters, including MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez, that the club was indeed preparing to get Hamilton ready, though noted that no plans had been finalized and that Hamilton himself hadn’t yet been informed of any details.
As Shaikin notes, the lengthy rehab process still awaiting Hamilton “buys time” for the team and owner Arte Moreno to figure out exactly how they’ll handle the outfielder’s return, given Moreno’s pointed statements about how the Angels might look to enforce clauses in Hamilton’s contract in regards to the use of drugs and alcohol. Hamilton’s 4-5 weeks of rehab time could be long enough to show other teams that he’s healthy and a trade could be worked out, though clearly the Angels would have to cover the majority of Hamilton’s remaining salary in any deal. It’s also still possible that Hamilton could end up back with the Angels if he looks good in the minors, since the team’s offense (particularly from their corner outfielders) has been lacking over the first two weeks of the season.
The Angels are reportedly discussing a potential resolution to their standoff with Josh Hamilton, and Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register examines some possible forms that resolution could take. Releasing or trading Hamilton are two possibilities, but not ones Fletcher thinks would be very attractive to the Angels — if they released Hamilton, they’d have to eat the entire rest of his contract, except a prorated portion of the league minimum once he signed elsewhere. And it’s very unlikely trading Hamilton would result in much salary relief for the Angels, since he hasn’t played yet this season (and, presumably, since the Angels’ issues with him are so well known). They could also, of course, settle with Hamilton for some portion of his remaining contract. Fletcher also suggests the possibility, though, of the Angels simply bringing Hamilton back and letting him play for awhile, which would allow him to build value, or at least give the Angels clarity by having Hamilton demonstrate how much value he has. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Marlins were mostly unknown to Ichiro Suzuki before he signed with them, the veteran outfielder tells Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. “I didn’t have that much information about the city or the team in general,” Ichiro says through an interpreter. “The Marlins are new, and they’re still trying to find that identity of what the Miami Marlins are all about.” Ichiro had played his whole big-league career in the American League, and at 41, he’s older than any MLB player except LaTroy Hawkins and Bartolo Colon. Kepner notes that Ichiro does not seem to intimidate the Marlins’ mostly young group of players, however.
- Jung-ho Kang has played only sparingly since the start of the season, but the Pirates are not considering sending him to Triple-A, Clint Hurdle tells Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (on Twitter). Before the season, the Bucs signed the 28-year-old Kang to a four-year deal with an option for a fifth, but there’s currently nowhere for him to start, and he has one hit in nine plate appearances so far. As a position player signed out of Korean pro baseball, Kang is in a unique position both on the field and off it, but it appears the Pirates will allow him to adjust at the big-league level rather than giving him regular playing time in the minors.
Josh Hamilton and the Angels are in talks to resolve their dispute, although no agreement is close at this time, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes (Twitter links). The Angels could trade Hamilton or buy out the rest of his deal for an amount less than the $83MM they currently owe him, although the union likely would disapprove of the latter option.
Rosenthal further notes (again via Twitter) that Sidney Ponson and Denny Neagle, former players whose teams felt they had personal-conduct issues, agreed to settlements for 75 to 90 percent of the remainders of their deals. Jason Bay also agreed to a buyout of his deal with the Mets following the 2012 season (although not for personal conduct-related reasons, and Bay still received the entire amount he was owed, only with some of it deferred).
MLB announced in early April that Hamilton would not be suspended for a self-reported relapse into drug use. Later reports indicated that the Angels would try to enforce provisions in Hamilton’s contract pertaining to the use of alcohol and drugs, although the union made a statement denying that the team had the right to do so. Such actions could only affect Hamilton’s 2016 and 2017 salaries, since his $23MM 2015 salary became guaranteed on Opening Day. Hamilton is currently recovering from shoulder surgery, although several Angels players recently met with him and say he’s ready to play, according to the Orange County Register’s Jeff Fletcher.
APRIL 14: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that Hamilton’s contract does indeed contain language that would allow the Angels to terminate or convert the deal if he is physically/mentally incapacitated due to alcohol and drugs (specifically, if he is less than “first-class condition”), though the clause is not unique to his deal. However, Hamilton and the union would still be able to argue that the JDA supersedes contractual clauses of this nature, so it remains unclear if the Angels would be able to take any form of action. If they were eventually able to attempt such action, they can only target Hamilton’s $30MM salaries in 2016 and 2017, as his 2015 salary of $23MM became fully guaranteed on Opening Day.
APRIL 10, 9:44pm: The union has issued a statement rejecting the idea that the Angels would have any basis to pursue Hamilton (h/t Ken Rosenthal):
“The MLBPA emphatically denies Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno’s assertions from earlier today that the Angels had requested and received the approval of the Union to insert language into Josh Hamilton’s contract that would supersede the provisions of the Joint Drug Agreement and/or the Basic Agreement. To the contrary, the collectively bargained provisions of the JDA and the Basic Agreement supersede all other player contract provisions and explicitly prevent Clubs from exactly the type of action Mr. Moreno alluded to in his press comments today.”
7:38pm: Angels owner Arte Moreno told reporters today that his club may seek to enforce provisions of the team’s contract with Josh Hamilton relating to the use of alcohol or drugs, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times was among those to report (Twitter links). Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register reports further details.
Hamilton was recently determined not to have violated his treatment program by an arbitrator, despite apparently admitting a relapse of some kind. (His early career was, of course, marred by numerous drug-related suspensions.) That led to a rather firm rebuke from the club.
The the precise language that the Angels might rely upon remains unknown, as does the remedy they could theoretically seek. “It’s not about money, nothing about money,” Moreno said. “In our contract, there’s language that he signed and that his agent approved that said he cannot drink and use drugs. So, we have specific language in the agreement. We have a couple other players who have the same language.” While the language may not be unique, Moreno did say that it was a point that the team specifically negotiated: “When we started talking to him, we went through his history. We felt it was important for us to have language in our agreement.”
Underlying the matter at this point is the fact that Hamilton not only has apparently relapsed, but that he is starting the year on the DL after two rough seasons to start his career with the Halos. The club owes Hamilton $83MM from this season through 2017 under his deal, and at this point would certainly welcome a chance to avoid some or all of that obligation (though Moreno says “it’s not about money”).
Moreno’s statements (coming on the back of the strong words from GM Jerry Dipoto) certainly seem to indicate that the team is serious about pursuing some action. Asked if he could say that Hamilton would again play in an Angels uniform, Moreno replied: “I will not say that.”
But one major issue with any attempt to pursue action under Hamilton’s contract is the collectively-bargained Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program (JDA). As Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets, the prevailing wisdom holds that the JDA — which outlines punishment for PEDs and recreational drugs — precludes resort to contract terms to punish players for violating the league’s drug rules. There may be some arguments around the JDA’s bar on other means of enforcing violations of its terms, but they seem to face an uphill battle.
The Rays tied a franchise record by using 21 players against the Marlins in a 10-inning, 10-9 loss on Friday, writes MLB.com’s Bill Chastain. That included two players making their big-league debut, outfielder Mikie Mahtook and righty Matt Andriese, as Chastain notes. Mahtook, a first-round pick in 2011, is perhaps the more likely of the two to make a long-term impact. He hit .292/.362/.458 for Triple-A Durham last season. “I think everything happened so fast yesterday, you don’t realize what was going on,” says Mahtook. “So in the moment, I wouldn’t even say I was super nervous. I was just kind of going with it.”
- Phillies prospect Jesmuel Valentin has been arrested and suspended indefinitely for his role in a domestic violence incident, writes Jim Salisbury of of CSNPhilly. GM Ruben Amaro said the team was “getting the young man some help, but we take this very seriously as does the Commissioner’s office.” Valentin, the son of former major leaguer Jose Valentin, was acquired by the Phillies last August as part of the return for Roberto Hernandez.
- Angels pitcher and union player rep C.J. Wilson commented on the ongoing Josh Hamilton saga, per Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times (two tweets). Wilson said, “it doesn’t seem like any bridges are being built. It’s a fairly contentious situation.” Wilson added, “Josh went through the whole process. It should be about him rehabbing and playing baseball again.” Per Pedro Moura of the Orange Country Register (also Twitter), Wilson also suggested that performance is driving owner Arte Moreno’s plans to take action against Hamilton. In case you missed the latest kerfuffle involving Hamilton, here’s a detailed summary from MLBTR’s Jeff Todd.
- It’s “difficult to imagine” Josh Hamilton will play for the Angels again given the team’s current dispute with him, Rosenthal says.
- Mike Napoli of the Red Sox had an insurance policy that would have paid him a tax-free $10MM if he had failed to meet certain salary thresholds. Because he collected $8MM in incentives on his contract with the Red Sox in 2013, however, he did not need to file a claim.
- With the addition of a Competitive Balance pick in their trade for Ryan Webb, the Dodgers now hold four of the first 74 picks of the draft in June, including one they got as compensation for losing Hanley Ramirez. The Dodgers will pick at No. 24, No. 35, No. 67 and No. 74.
- The Rangers could be trade-deadline sellers, but they don’t have much to deal besides Yovani Gallardo, Rosenthal says. They don’t have enough middle-infield depth to trade Elvis Andrus unless they get another shortstop back.