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 in the big leagues. (Though, as MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez notes, Hamilton was on the 40-man at the point of his first failed drug test in 2003.) 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.