Arte Moreno finally got what he wanted. It took a few weeks of foot stamping and pouting, but Josh Hamilton will never suit up for the Halos again. Following yesterday’s official announcement of a very generous gift to the Texas Rangers, the Josh Hamilton era in Los Angeles is officially over. Do not call the deal a trade. The Angels gave Hamilton away to the Rangers, who are on the hook for approximately $7 million over the final three years of Hamilton’s contract.
The Angels ended up giving Hamilton exactly what he wanted — a return to Texas, where he will have 19 chances a year to make them regret their decision. Arte Moreno and the Angels wanted to be rid of Hamilton so badly, that they were willing to do whatever it took to rid themselves of his presence, even if that meant hurting their team in the process. Hamilton was a well-liked presence in the clubhouse who was supported by his teammates at every stage of the ordeal. He would no doubt have been an upgrade in left field, even if he never lived up to the value of his contract.
That the Angels were willing to part with Hamilton for nothing in return, to a division rival no less, shows just how desperately Moreno wanted to see the player he handed a five-year, $125 million contract on any roster but his own. Moreno knew that signing a player like Hamilton came with a special set of risks given his battle with drug addiction. He did not, as he claimed, include an out-clause in the contract should Hamilton relapse into drug use.
The Angels organization came off like a spoiled child at every stage of the ordeal that was Hamilton’s latest brush with addiction. I am by no means defending the player in this situation. Josh Hamilton has his own personal flaws and demons to deal with moving forward, but the organization had no right to behave the way they did. In the end, the organization gave themselves no options but to hand Hamilton away for pennies on the dollar.
I understand the buyer’s remorse Moreno and the Angels must have felt with Josh Hamilton. A .255 batting average and 31 home runs were not exactly the return on investment the team was looking for when they signed Hamilton. That being said, the Angels should have taken a page out of the New York Yankees book. The Yankees would have liked nothing more than to sever ties with Alex Rodriguez following his Biogenesis suspension, but when it became clear that would not happen, the organization moved on.
This season, Alex Rodriguez has rebounded to be one of the most important offensive performers on a resurgent Yankees’ team. Had the Angels allowed Hamilton to return to the Major Leagues following his shoulder rehab, they might have been pleasantly surprised. Hamilton could do no worse than the .155/.189 /.197 slash line put up by Matt Joyce and Collin Cowgill in left field so far this season. At nearly 34 years old, Hamilton’s MVP-caliber years are behind him, but something tells me he would do a little better than those abysmal numbers. The Angels are 9-10 as I write this. While chances are slim that Houston will continue running away with the division, the Angels offense could use a major upgrade in left field. Josh Hamilton might have been able to provide that.
Apparently, that would have been too much for Arte Moreno to stomach. By acting impatiently and with such haste, Moreno forced his team’s hand and destroyed any value Hamilton would have had on the market. Had Hamilton put up even passable numbers after returning to the Angels, there is no way other trade possibilities would not have emerged. Now, the Angels will soldier on with a left-field platoon that has put up a slash line very much in line with a National League pitcher and Hamilton gets to go back to the city and organization where he always felt most comfortable.
So, congratulations to the Angels and their owner Arte Moreno. In the end, you got exactly what you wanted. Josh Hamilton is no longer a member of your team. If you had to weaken your own roster, send him to a division rival, and pay out nearly $80 million for no production in return, so be it. Consequences be damned, I bet it feels good to wake up knowing you got your way.
Follow Josh Sadlock on Twitter @JoshSadlock.