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Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Rumors
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.
- 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.
Here’s the latest out of the game’s western divisions:
- Padres righty Ian Kennedy is headed to the 15-day DL, as Dennis Lin of theSan Diego Union-Tribune reports. Fortunately, Lin tweets, skipper Bud Black says that Kennedy already has shown improvement and that the team does not believe he’ll be out long. Then there is the fact that, as Jon Morosi of FOX Sports notes on Twitter, San Diego has solid rotation depth and will be comfortable handing the ball off to Odrisamer Despaigne.
- The fact that the city of Anaheim has a new lead negotiator does not change the Angels‘ stance in stadium talks, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports on Twitter. “Why would it change anything?” queried owner Arte Moreno. “We are not negotiating.”
- The Dodgers have been said to be indeed lining up as top contenders for the services of hyped Cuban hurler Yadier Alvarez. As Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has gone to watch Alvarez pitch in the Dominican Republic, where he established residency upon leaving Cuba.
APRIL 7: Street is still interested in an extension with the Angels, but he told MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitter links) and other reporters that he’s re-hired former agent Alan Hendricks to handle the bulk of the negotiations now that the season has started. “We are close enough that I’m still engaged,” said Street.
APRIL 6: Angels GM Jerry Dipoto tells reporters, including MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitter link), that an extension with closer Huston Street is “still possible.” Negotiations have remained “friendly,” he adds,’ noting that “Opening Day was never a deadline.”
Talks have been well-publicized, with the self-represented Street making clear that he knows what kind of deal he wants to give up the right to free agency after this season. The sides have not seemed to be close on numbers this spring, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times tweets.
Street, 31, does not have the kind of obscene strikeout numbers that the game’s best relievers tend to carry. Nevertheless, he has produced impeccable results, even though ERA estimators suggest he has outperformed his true contributions. Since leaving the Rockies for less hitter-friendly environs after the 2011 season, Street has thrown 155 innings of 1.97 ERA ball with 8.7 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9.
Valuing Street as an extension candidate or free agent remains challenging, however. Aging relievers with a fair bit of mileage are notoriously fickle investments, and Street has missed some time over the years with shoulder and lower-leg issues (among other things). Then again, he has never relied on velocity and still throws as hard as ever (high 80s).
After winning the World Series in three out of the last five years, the Giants have become a model front office, writes Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. They’ve done a little bit of everything ranging from developing their own home grown pitching staff to acquiring and extending Hunter Pence. GM Brian Sabean has balanced sabermetric ideas with traditional scouts, and brought in one of the top managers in Bruce Bochy.
Here’s more from the NL West:
- The Padres are willing to eat a “chunk of money” to move Cameron Maybin or Carlos Quentin, a talent evaluator tells Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Per the evaluator, experiments with Quentin at first base did not meet with success. Both players are being shopped aggressively, although rivals may think one or both will be released before long.
- The Padres don’t consider themselves to be a small market club, writes Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. While it may look like the club “opened the coffers” over the offseason, it was all a part of a steady build up. The franchise now supports a $100MM payroll thanks to a lucrative TV contract, central revenue, local sponsorships, and non-baseball events at Petco Park.
- The Diamondbacks have made Aaron Hill available, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. However, the club has not talked with the Angels about the second baseman. That Arizona would like to deal Hill is no surprise. He has two-years and $24MM remaining on his contract, but he’s been ousted by a combination of Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings. The club also has utility infielder Cliff Pennington available. The Angels do appear to be an obvious fit after naming Johnny Giavotella as their starting second baseman.
- Arizona is searching for a new formula to develop ace pitching, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The club has a plethora of high upside pitching, but they still need to find that breakout talent. Piecoro examines a few of 2014’s newest studs. Corey Kluber is said to have an elite work ethic, which is obviously an important but difficult-to-measure skill. Others like Garrett Richards and Jake Arrieta always had excellent stuff but lacked consistency. Some of the pitchers that could take a step forward for the D’Backs include Archie Bradley, Robbie Ray, Rubby De La Rosa, and Allen Webster.