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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.
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.
The Rangers have designated righty Logan Verrett for assignment, Rangers executive VP of communications John Blake announced on Twitter. The move clears roster space for the addition of Wandy Rodriguez.
Verrett was selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Orioles from the Mets, and was later claimed by Texas. He would ultimately be offered back to New York if no other club decides to put in a waiver claim once he hits the wire (as is likely).
The 24-year-old threw nine innings of relief for the Rangers in just four appearances. He struck out three and walked four in that span, and was charged with six earned runs. Verrett had worked as a starter in the minors, always exhibiting outstanding control and progressing quickly through the Mets system.
Here’s the latest on a trio of intriguing international prospects…
- The Cubs, Dodgers and Rangers are all interested in Bahamian shortstop Lucius Fox and scouts consider the three teams to be the “biggest threats” to sign the 17-year-old prospect, Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel reports. Since many teams have already planned out their budgets and made unofficial agreements to prospects for the 2015-16 international signing period, a player like Fox (who is projected to receive a bonus of at least $1.5MM) is perhaps more likely to land with a team like the aforementioned trio who have money to spend and are aggressive enough to surpass the spending pool limit. The Giants, Padres and Reds have also been linked to Fox but are seen as less likely to spend as freely as Chicago, Los Angeles and Texas.
- Yusnier Diaz, an 18-year-old outfielder, has left Cuba and is looking to play in the majors, Ben Badler of Baseball America reports. The 6’1, 185-pound prospect has plus speed and a plus arm and Badler praised his hitting tools, though he feels Diaz’s right-handed swing is a bit long. Diaz is subject to international spending pools, and since he is unlikely to secure permanent residence in another country by the May 15 deadline, he may not be able to sign until the 2016-17 international signing period opens on July 2, 2016. Any team that exceeds its pool limit in the 2015-16 signing period is therefore probably out of the running for Diaz, as such teams are prohibited from signing any of the next year’s class for more than $300K. The Angels, Diamondbacks, Rays, Red Sox and Yankees are already under this penalty until the 2017-18 signing period.
- Also from Badler, he provides some background on Cuban righty Yaisel Sierra, who isn’t subject to the bonus pools but is still several months away from gaining the necessary clearance to sign with a team. Sierra can throw all his pitches (including a 96mph fastball and a slider) from various arm angles, though the 23-year-old is still a bit unpolished. “Between his stuff, pitching style and history of control problems in Cuba, Sierra has a lot of similarities to Reds right-hander Raisel Iglesias, with Sierra having more size but Iglesias better performance in his final year in Cuba,” Badler writes.
Here’s the latest from the game’s western divisions on a quiet morning:
- The Rangers will purchase the contract of lefty Wandy Rodriguez in time for him to make a start tomorrow, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. Rodriguez will only earn a league minimum salary, but will begin marching towards up to $1.8MM in available incentives with his first appearance. He spent all of camp with the Braves, who released him rather than taking on what would have been a $2MM base salary.
- The Rockies have optioned former starting catcher Wilin Rosario to Triple-A in spite of his hot start in limited action, as Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports. Rosario seemed a plausible trade candidate over the offseason, though he was coming off of a tough 2014 and probably would not have drawn a palatable return. He has been productive at the plate since transitioning out of the regular backstop mix, but was not able to earn much playing time. Rosario was clearly disappointed by the move, though he said he expects it will be short-lived. It is worth noting that Rosario entered the season with 3.023 years on his service clock, meaning that a lengthy minor league stint could deliver an additional year of club control.
- While the Rockies enjoyed a hot start, questionable pitching has dropped the team back to earth. Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post argues that the club has continued to exhibit a “defeatist attitude” in the way that it approaches outside acquisitions. That explains why the team settled for Kyle Kendrick instead of going hard for James Shields, says Kiszla, who disputes the Catch-22 conventional wisdom holding that the Rockies must overpay to get starting pitching but that the team will never again be baited into doing so.
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 Dodgers released closer Brian Wilson back in December, but he’s apparently kept himself busy, recently playing Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn in a live reading of Major League as the Los Angeles County Museum Of Art. Grantland’s Dave Schilling reports that the flamboyant Wilson dressed for the event in an ’80s Indians uniform and imitated Charlie Sheen’s delivery while reading for the part. Here are more quick notes from around baseball.
- Agent Scott Boras was critical of the Cubs for their handling of the timing of Kris Bryant‘s promotion, but he has no such complaints about the White Sox promoting Carlos Rodon at a similar point in the season, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com writes. Of course, the two situations are different — Bryant had a full year in the minors after being drafted and had significant time in Triple-A before reaching the Majors, whereas Rodon, who the White Sox picked third overall last June, had neither. And Boras says that he likes that the White Sox plan to be conservative with Rodon’s innings. “The Bryant situation and Carlos’ situation are very different because of the innings issue,” says Boras. “Because of the idea that frankly, you really want this process to get a foundation to it for a pitcher rather than building — because there’s no repetition in amateur baseball that prepares you for what Major League pitchers have to go through.” The White Sox are having Rodon begin his big-league career in the bullpen, much as they did with Chris Sale.
- Ross Detwiler has struggled to a 10.95 ERA through his first three starts with the Rangers, but manager Jeff Banister plans to stick with the slumping southpaw, writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Detwiler feels he’s found a flaw in his delivery while watching video of Sunday’s start that will allow him to return to form. The Rangers picked up Detwiler in a trade that sent Chris Bostick and Abel De Los Santos to the Nationals this offseason, but his initial results are clearly not what the team expected.