Josh Hamilton Rumors

Josh Hamilton Facing Discipline For Drug Of Abuse

7:21pm: Hamilton’s meeting involves an admission to the league earlier in the offseason that he had used prohibited drugs of abuse, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (Twitter links). There are no indications that he failed any tests. Hamilton, of course, has a well-documented history of addiction, leading Heyman to characterize the event in question as a relapse.

As Heyman notes, the 33-year-old would seemingly technically qualify only as a first-time offender under the JDA (Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program) since his early-career suspensions occurred before he was on a major league roster. Were that the case, Hamilton would be handled under the first-time offender protocol. A treatment program would be established, with a 15 to 25 game ban standing by if Hamilton failed to comply with that program.

But as Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links), that will probably not be the case here. Hamilton’s discipline will fall within the discretion of commissioner Rob Manfred, per the report, because his prior failed drug tests take him “outside [the] standard program.” Having been re-admitted to MLB “via Bud Selig’s discretion and terms” back in 2006, says Morosi, Hamilton is now subject to the discretion of Selig’s successor.

The JDA does include provisions for players who have been suspended for one year after more than four violations of their individualized treatment program. It provides that the commissioner may impose discipline “consistent with the concept of progressive discipline,” seemingly suggesting a more advanced punishment than those already levied. Of course, circumstances such as the time that has passed could presumably also factor in to the decisionmaking process, and it is not clear whether those provisions would hold sway in this case.

5:21pm: Angels slugger Josh Hamilton is in New York meeting with MLB officials regarding a possible disciplinary matter, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports. While GM Jerry Dipoto confirmed that Hamilton was in New York for the meeting, he otherwise declined to provide any information on the nature of the issue.

It appears that Hamilton is not facing any accusations of PED use: a tweet from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports indicates that some other matter is at play. The executive that Rosenthal spoke with labeled the apparent transgression “worse” than PED use, though of course that is rather an ambiguous label and is open to a range of interpretation.

While it would be wrong to speculate as to the basis for the possible discipline at this point, DiGiovanna does write that Los Angeles is “bracing for possible penalties.” Needless to say, any disciplinary action could have important ramifications for the Angels and Hamilton. The veteran is owed $23MM this year and $60MM over 2016-17 under the free agent deal he signed in December of 2012. Time missed due to suspension would not be compensated.

There is also the matter of potentially replacing Hamilton in the lineup. Though he is coming off of a rough 2014 season and was already set to miss the beginning of the year recovering from shoulder surgery, Hamilton possesses rare talent at the plate. The Halos do have some depth in place already in offseason addition Matt Joyce, who is expected to step in for Hamilton while he recovers from his procedure.


AL Notes: Gardenhire, Angels, Pujols, De Aza

Former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has rejected a position within his old organization and will spend the year away from the game, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger writes. “He’s doing fine, but he’s not going to be participating with us,” says GM Terry Ryan. “I talk to him often. He’s doing pretty good, but he wants to take a year off.” Ryan adds that Gardenhire is interested in continuing to manage. The Twins fired him in September after the team had four straight seasons of 70 wins or fewer. Here’s more from the American League.

  • Josh Hamilton could be out for up to 12 weeks after having shoulder surgery earlier this month, but the Angels are not actively looking for an outfielder to replace him, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com writes. “If throughout the spring, if we see something that fits for us, like we do any other spring, we’ll certainly pay attention,” says GM Jerry Dipoto. “But it’s not something we are focused on at this point.” The Angels feel that Matt Joyce, Collin Cowgill and Dan Robertson give them enough options to fill Hamilton’s spot until he returns.
  • Fellow Angel Albert Pujols could retire before his contract expires in 2021 if his gymnast daughter, Sophia, makes it to the Olympics, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports. The plan for Sophia is to get to the Olympics by 2020. “That might have to be the year I retire,” says Pujols. “You can put that in the paper, because I don’t want to miss it. … Either that, or they’ll have to put me on the disabled list for two weeks.” Of course, that’s still five years away, and Sophia is only nine and will still be too young to compete in 2020 under current rules, so it might be unwise to read much into Pujols’ comments at this point.
  • The Orioles considered a multiyear extension for outfielder Alejandro De Aza before figures were filed for De Aza’s arbitration case, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes. De Aza says he was not aware of those discussions, but that he would consider an extension. “I’m interested in the opportunity,” he says. “I’m excited about the opportunity here, and I want to be here for a long time.” De Aza, who lost his arbitration hearing yesterday, is eligible for free agency after the season.

AL West Notes: Montero, Coke, Profar, Hamilton

Jesus Montero has been a massive disappointment with the Mariners, but spent the offseason putting himself in position for a turnaround, as Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. Montero is in great shape, as photo and video confirms, and is certainly young and talented enough to hold plenty of promise.

More from the west:

  • The Rangers are still looking at lefty Phil Coke and watched him throw again recently, reports Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News. GM Jon Daniels discussed the possibility of adding an arm today, noting that depth is always valuable but expressing interest in seeing his current group in camp. (Video via Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest.) While the club has to this point been unwilling to make Coke a major league offer, with the southpaw still holding out for a 40-man spot, Fraley notes that the bad news on Jurickson Profar will clear a big league roster space since he is destined for the 60-day DL.
  • As for the unfortunate news on Profar, the Rangers‘ head baseball decisionmaker firmly rejected the idea that the prospect deserved criticism for trying to avoid surgery by rehab. While the news that a procedure would be required was not a total surprise, Daniels said that the 22-year-old infielder made the difficult decision for good reasons and worked very hard over the offseason. Certainly, Daniels did not sound like he was interested in giving up on Profar. “Fortunately, he’s still just 22 years old,” said the GM. “We’ll get him back and we’ll get him out there.”
  • Angels slugger Josh Hamilton is going to require a longer recovery from shoulder surgery than originally expected, as MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports. At this point, it isn’t even clear that Hamilton will be close enough to report to spring camp. It still does not seem that an addition will truly be necessary, with Matt Joyce on hand to step in. Hamilton’s absence will presumably also create additional opportunities for players like Collin Cowgill and waiver claimees Alfredo Marte and Roger Kieschnick.


Quick Hits: Marlins, Reds, White Sox, Rangers

The Marlins‘ offseason moves position them for a “measured buildup,” Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. Mat Latos has just one year of control remaining, while Martin Prado and Michael Morse have two. And even the post-opt-out portion of Giancarlo Stanton‘s contract is structured so that the Marlins will be able to afford it once they renegotiate their TV deal. This isn’t like the 2011-2012 offseason, when the Marlins signed Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell to long-term deals, only to trade all three. For that reason, Rosenthal writes, the Marlins are unlikely to sign James Shields to a big contract, even though they’ve been connected to him lately. Here’s more from throughout the big leagues.

  • After Ichiro Suzuki plays his first game with the Marlins, the Reds will be the last team that hasn’t had a Japanese-born player, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. The Reds did express interest in Nori Aoki this offseason, but they don’t have a strong presence in Japan (although Rosecrans notes that the Reds aren’t the only team that doesn’t). “We do have some people who do cross checking. We don’t have a scout in Japan,” said GM Walt Jocketty. “It’s too costly.”
  • The White Sox signed closer David Robertson for four years and $46MM, but GM Rick Hahn says they weren’t the highest bidder for his services, CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes tweets. It’s unclear who the top bidder might have been, although the Blue Jays and Astros were connected to Robertson this offseason.
  • GM Jon Daniels said today at Rangers Fan Fest that the team is unlikely to trade for Josh Hamilton, Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest tweets. The Rangers reportedly discussed a Hamilton deal with the Angels earlier this offseason, although those talks were not in-depth. Also, free agent lefty reliever Neal Cotts is not likely to re-sign with the Rangers, Andro tweets.

West Notes: Hamilton, Rosario, Mariners

The Angels are likely to trade Josh Hamilton before his contract expires, but not before letting him play out at least part of the 2015 season, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com writes. Given Hamilton’s production (.263/.331/.414 last year) and contract, his value can’t slip much further, so the Angels might as well wait to see if they can recoup some of that value with a rebound season, Gonzalez suggests. And then, of course, there’s the fact that Hamilton has a full no-trade clause. The Angels reportedly discussed potential Hamilton deals with the Rangers and Padres this offseason, although those talks did not appear particularly likely to result in a trade. Here’s more from the West divisions.

  • After reaching a deal with Nick Hundley last week, the Rockies could trade Wilin Rosario, or they could keep him and go with three catchers (Hundley, Rosario and Michael McKenry), MLB.com’s Thomas Harding writes. Many teams have two catchers but are reluctant to use the backup to pinch-hit, so having three would allow the Rockies to use their spare catchers more liberally. Also, they could have Rosario pick up playing time at first base or in the outfield. Harding adds that the Rockies have “checked in withMax Scherzer and James Shields this offseason, although, unsurprisingly, they’re not likely to sign either one, and they’ll likely acquire a veteran to eat innings instead.
  • Justin Ruggiano and Seth Smith should form a solid platoon for the Mariners, David Golebiewski writes for GammonsDaily.com. Neither one projects to be anything special if he plays every day, but Ruggiano has a .925 OPS against lefties in the last three seasons, while Smith has an .825 OPS against righties. Those are very strong numbers (even though we should probably expect regression for Ruggiano, and it’s impossible to completely hide any batter from same-handed pitching), and the Mariners should get effective production from right field while they wait for a long-term starter to come along.

AL Notes: Hamilton, Cabrera, Toritani

The Angels have discussed potential trades involving Josh Hamilton with the Rangers and Padres this offseason, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports. That might not mean much right now — MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez tweets that the conversation between the Angels and Rangers lasted two minutes, and today’s Wil Myers deal would seem to rule out the possibility of a trade sending Hamilton to San Diego. Rosenthal himself describes recent Hamilton trade talks as merely “exploratory,” and quotes Angels GM Jerry Dipoto asserting his faith in Hamilton. “We do believe in Josh,” says Dipoto. “We’ve seen him hit balls that humans shouldn’t hit. What he does, 99 percent of the players can’t do.” There’s also, obviously, the problem of Hamilton’s trade value being down significantly right now after a mediocre 2014 season. But the possibility of the Angels trading Hamilton (who has a full no-trade clause and is owed $83MM over the next three years) could be worth keeping an eye on in the coming years. Here are more notes from the American League.

  • The White Sox are “comfortable” with Melky Cabrera‘s past troubles with PEDs, J.J. Stankevitz of CSNChicago.com writes. “Obviously we’re aware of what happened in the past and no one condones what he did,” says GM Rick Hahn. “But we are talking about an instance where there was a mistake he made and took ownership for and showed honest remorse.” Another PED suspension would cost the White Sox an entire year of Cabrera’s three-year deal, but the White Sox are confident that Cabrera’s PED issues are in the past.
  • GM Alex Anthopoulos confirms that the Blue Jays have interest in Japanese infielder Takashi Toritani, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca writes. “We’ve scouted him quite a bit,” Anthopoulos said to Jeff Blair on Sportsnet 590 The FAN. “We have some scouts that like him and he’s someone that we’ve certainly talked about internally. Beyond that I probably wouldn’t get into anything else, but certainly a guy like that would fit.” The 33-year-old Toritani, who hit .303/.406/.415 for Hanshin in 2014, could be an option at second base for the Jays.

West Notes: Kemp, Cabrera, Kendrick, Upton

With the Winter Meetings beginning in San Diego, this could be the week the Dodgers finally deal from their glut of outfielders, writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. The Dodgers would prefer to hang onto Matt Kemp, according to Shaikin, but Major League players are not being offered for either Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford.

Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports the Mariners were close to a deal for Kemp with Seattle paying roughly half of the $107 million remaining on his salary over the next five years, but things fell apart when the Dodgers insisted on the inclusion of either Taijuan Walker or James Paxton. In a second article, Dutton lists the Padres and the Orioles as the Mariners’ primary competition for Kemp, with Shaikin adding the Giants are a possibility, if they fail to sign Chase Headley. With Nelson Cruz now in Seattle, Dutton opines the Mariners’ interest in Kemp will depend on what other offers the Dodgers receive. Those other offers may not be to the Dodgers’ liking, as Shaikin notes the Braves (Justin Upton and Evan Gattis), Red Sox (Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig), and Phillies (Marlon Byrd) also have right-handed power bats available to trade.

Elsewhere in baseball’s West divisions:

  • Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman says the constant rumors that come with running a major market team are “comical,” but he doesn’t necessarily mind it, writes Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. “Misinformation can be a powerful tool,” Friedman said.
  • The Mariners are reluctant to part with their young pitching to acquire an outfield bat, according to Dutton. “That’s a little bit of a dangerous road,” said GM Jack Zduriencik. “You look at our pitching staff, and when you analyze it, a couple of those young starters didn’t pitch a lot of innings last year.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets the Mariners are very serious about their pursuit of Melky Cabrera. Last week, it was reported the M’s are believed to be willing to offer something similar to the four-year, $57MM deal that they used to sign Cruz.
  • In a separate tweet, Rosenthal posits the Angels are reluctant to trade second baseman Howie Kendrick because of offensive concerns including uncertainity about Josh Hamilton, an unsettled DH situation, and no clear backup catcher.
  • Sources tell ESPN’s Buster Olney (via Twitter) the Giants and Reds are great fits for Justin Upton, but neither match up well with the Braves and may need to involve a third team to swing a deal.
  • Olney also tweets the Astros continue to pursue closer David Robertson and his most lucrative offer might come from Houston.
  • Rockies GM Jeff Bridich tells Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post there has been interest in catcher Wilin Rosario, but Colorado “could very easily go into the season with Wilin.

Central Notes: Burnett, Kluber, Cardinals

A.J. Burnett will prove to be a bargain for the Pirates, Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. The Pirates have a great record with recent free agents like Russell Martin and Edinson Volquez, and Burnett is still a strikeout pitcher. He’ll also be recovered from a hernia issue that dogged him in 2014, and he’ll have a more favorable ballpark and defense than he had in Philadelphia. Here are more notes from the Central divisions.

  • Potential offseason extension candidates include NL Central and AL Central players like Josh Harrison of the Pirates, Corey Kluber of the Indians, and Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas of the Royals, Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com writes. It will be awhile before Kluber can really cash in on his AL Cy Young award win, Castrovince notes — he isn’t eligible for free agency until after 2018, by which point he’ll be heading into his age-33 season. Extending him now would give the Indians cost certainty through his arbitration seasons. As Castrovince points out, extensions for Harrison, Hosmer and Moustakas don’t appear that likely — the Pirates would probably like to see how Harrison performs in 2015, and Hosmer and Moustakas are represented by Scott Boras, who may prefer to see what his players might get in free agency in a few years. Also, neither Hosmer nor Moustakas were nearly as impressive in the regular season as they were in the playoffs.
  • GM John Mozeliak says the Cardinals aren’t heavily involved in the market for Asian players right now, Fangraphs’ David Laurila tweets. Mozeliak does add that the Cardinals can’t totally ignore that market, however. The GM’s answer came in response to a question about Japanese phenom Shohei Otani, who struck out 179 batters in 155 1/3 innings and threw 101 MPH as a pitcher, as well as hitting .274/.338/.505 as an outfielder for the Nippon Ham Fighters last season. Otani is probably many years away from playing in the US, if he ever does, but MLB scouts are keeping an eye on him, for obvious reasons.

Josh Hamilton Out 6-8 Weeks For Thumb Surgery

Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton has suffered a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament of his left thumb as well as a torn capsule, the team announced. He will undergo surgery in the next few days and is expected to miss six to eight weeks.

Replacing the injured slugger will be J.B. Shuck, a 26-year-old outfielder who narrowly missed a roster spot out of the spring. In the most extensive MLB action of his career last year, Shuck put up a .293/.331/.366 line in 478 plate appearances for the Halos. With 1.055 years of MLB service at the start of the season, Shuck will not have a chance to reach Super Two status next year, but could now hope to end the year with over 2 years of service.

Hamilton, of course, is in the second year of a mammoth five-year, $125MM contract. The deal is heavily backloaded, as his $15MM annual salary in the first two years will jump to $23MM next year and then $30MM in 2016-17. Though he disappointed last season, Hamilton — who will turn 33 during his rehab — had been off to a hot start to the 2014 campaign with a 1.286 OPS. Needless to say, the loss of Hamilton's bat (especially if it ends up being for longer than two months) will be a significant loss for an Angels club that hopes to compete in a loaded AL West. 


Moreno Talks Scioscia, Dipoto, Hamilton, Trout

It's been a disastrous 2013 for the Angels, who sit 10 games below .500 and 11 games out of first place in the AL West. Angels owner Arte Moreno spoke with Bob Nightengale of USA Today regarding his team's slow start. Here are some highlights from the piece…

  • Manager Mike Scioscia and GM Jerry Dipoto aren't in immediate danger of losing their jobs, though Moreno notes that he will re-evaluate the team in the offseason. Moreno says that he likes Dipoto's analytical systems and still considers Scioscia an elite manager.
  • Moreno says he's never seen anything like the struggles that Josh Hamilton has endured to open the season, however he feels it's too early to judge 32-year-old: "Five years from now, we can sit down, and then ask me about the investment in the man.'' Hamilton, of course, is batting just .207/.262/.378 and has played below replacement level according to both Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference.
  • Moreno tells Nightengale that he has no buyer's remorse when it comes to the Albert Pujols deal. The opportunity to bring one of the best hitters in the history of the game to Anaheim was a "treat." Pujols hasn't struggled at Hamilton's level, but his .258/.330/.447 batting line and injury problems don't bode well, considering he's owed $212MM from 2014-21.
  • There have yet to be any serious negotiations about Mike Trout, partly because it's so difficult to put a value or dollar amount on his incredible numbers to date.
  • The Halos can opt out of their stadium in 2016 to either have the 50-year-old park refurbished or have a new one constructed. Moreno says that the ideal situation would be to remain in the current Angel Stadium.