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Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Rumors
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 announced today (via Twitter) that they have claimed outfielder Gary Brown off waivers from the Cardinals and optioned him to Triple-A. In order to clear room on the 40-man roster, Cory Rasmus was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.
Formerly considered one of the top 50 prospects in all of baseball by Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com, Brown’s upside never translated into results in the upper Minors. He’s a career .248/.305/.379 hitter in 1238 plate appearances at the Triple-A level and received a brief, seven-game cup of coffee with the Giants last season.
BA praised Brown’s 80-grade speed (on the 20-80 scouting scale) in their post-2011 scouting report — the same offseason in which they ranked him 38th among all prospects. He projected at one point as an elite defender in center field and a leadoff hitter with some surprising pull power, per BA, but clearly those expectations have been significantly dampened at this point.
Rangers right-hander Nick Tepesch was optioned to Triple-A on March 29, but after working with the MLBPA, he’s had his option reversed and been placed on the Major League disabled list, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Tepesch felt soreness in his shoulder the day after being optioned and has since been shut down due to inflammation in his ulnar collateral nerve. As Grant notes, Tepesch will benefit financially from the move, as he’ll now receive the pro-rated portion of his $517.5K salary while on the MLB DL. He could also end up qualifying for arbitration as a Super Two player, as he entered the year with 1.136 days of service time. A full year would boost his service time to 2.136, which is near the early projected cutoff of 2.140.
Here’s more from the AL West…
- Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has recently expressed an interest in being a two-sport star in the mold of Deion Sanders, and the Rangers hold his rights after taking him in the Minor League portion of the 2013 Rule 5 Draft. We’ve been tracking the latest on Wilson at Pro Football Rumors, with the latest reports from this evening indicating that such talk may be more of a bargaining ploy on Wilson’s behalf. (You can track previous updates on Wilson by clicking his tag at PFR or using this link.)
- The Rangers have been decimated by injuries over the past year, but as Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes, the team conducted a thorough examination of its medical staff and training procedures this winter to see if there was anything that they could have done to prevent the outbreak. Dr. Keith Meister, the team’s head physician, said he feels that a lot of the natures were of the fluke variety. Ryan Rua and Shin-Soo Choo had ankle injuries suffered while in the field. Derek Holland‘s knee injury came when he tripped over his dog. Jurickson Profar is the only position player that Meister has ever seen to have his current injury — a tear in a subscapular muscle in his throwing shoulder. Prince Fielder‘s injury likely dated back to his days with the Tigers, and the Tommy John surgeries they’ve incurred have plagued teams league-wide.
- Early struggles in the Mariners rotation might have prompted the team to dip into its farm system in previous years, but Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes that there’s no such luxury this year. The top two alternatives for Seattle, Roenis Elias and Jordan Pries, have both struggled in Triple-A. The lack of quality innings from the rotation has manager Lloyd McClendon concerned about his bullpen, Dutton notes. Mariners relievers have worked three or more innings in eight of the team’s past 10 games.
- Angels closer Huston Street tells Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register that there have been no recent developments in talks of a contract extension. Street, who was representing himself in Spring Training, has enlisted his former agent, Alan Hendricks, to handle the negotiation process with GM Jerry Dipoto now that the season has begun.
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.
The Mariners were a trendy pick to win big in 2015, but so far they’re off to a weak start. For his part, manager Lloyd McClendon thinks that all of the team’s tough losses will help prepare them for later on in the season.
“Like I told the guys the other day, and this is real important: Everybody’s giving the American League title, the pennant, to the Seattle Mariners, and we’re going to hoist the trophy, we’re going to the World Series. And yeah, that’s great,” McClendon said, according to MLB.com’s Doug Miller. “But in between, there’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears, some heartaches, some adversity that you’ve got to go through, and you’ve got to be built for it. And you’ve got to handle it. And if you’re lucky, in the end you’ll be able to hoist that trophy.”
Here’s more from around the majors..
- Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com spoke with Cubs execs about what went into their decision to draft Kris Bryant No. 2 overall in 2013. “It was clear [that Bryant, Stanford pitcher Mark Appel, and Oklahoma pitcher Jonathan Gray] were going to go in the top three. As an organization, we knew we needed pitching but philosophically we felt like taking hitters at the top of the draft was the safer bet. Also, at picking at No. 2 it was hopefully our one shot at picking that high in the draft. Going hitter was safer,” GM Jed Hoyer explained.
- Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com attempted to peg what kind of impact we could see Bryant make in his rookie year for the Cubs. Mayo writes that he’s undoubtedly ready to make his mark at the big league level and, unsurprisingly, scouting directors raved about his overall upside. “He’s an exceptional player and talent,” one director said. “He has the chance to be one of the top hitters in baseball over the next 10 to 15 years.”
- Angels bench coach Dino Ebel and manager Mike Scioscia had dinner with Josh Hamilton on Wednesday night and Ebel told reporters, including Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (via Twitter), that the meeting “went well.” It remains to be seen how the Hamilton situation will play out in the wake of owner Arte Moreno’s comments.
Here are the latest minor transactions from around baseball, with the newest moves at the top of the post…
- Prior to Wednesday’s game, the Angels announced that they selected the contract of left-hander Adam Wilk from Triple-A. In corresponding moves, Los Angeles sent righty Drew Rucinski to Triple-A to create a 25-man roster spot and moved lefty Tyler Skaggs to the 60-man DL to create a 40-man roster spot. Wilk pitched two innings for the Halos last night, his first taste of MLB action since 2012 when he was a member of the Tigers. Wilk pitched in the Korean Baseball Organization in 2013 and for the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate in 2014.
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.