On Thursday, December 13, Josh Hamilton agreed to a five-year $125 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The deal marks the largest for an outfielder in the history of Major Leagues Baseball (MLB). The deal comes as a surprise to many as Angels seemed to be too far behind other teams as their focus seemed to be on starting pitcher Zack Grenkie. Grenkie moved to the crosstown Dodgers and the Angels decide to throw their extra cash at Hamilton.
This deal puts the Angels as a favorite to win the American League (AL) with Mike Trout, Alberto Pujols, and Hamilton. Hamilton will replace former Angel Torii Hunter in the outfield. Hunter went to Twitter in reaction today, tweeting, “I was told money was tight but I guess the Arte (The teams ownership) had money hidden under a mattress. Business is business, but don’t lie.”
If what Hunter says is true, the Angels front office may have a bigger issue to worry about than paying for Hamilton’s new contract. Lying to players is a big mistake; these are professionals who understand that each team’s goal is winning. Hunter played a positive role within the team the past couple of seasons and for a team to part ways with him in that way is unacceptable.
Any player under contract with the Angels has certainly noticed this underhanded move by the front office. This is a horrible way to start a season. This may cause player distrust of management which could quickly lead to a collapse of a possible giant within the MLB. Players throughout the league should think twice before signing with Los Angeles.
The signing obviously does not just affect the Angels but the rest of the league, specifically in the AL West. The Rangers are now at a loss for offensive after having the worst possible off season. They lost Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, and traded away Michael Young in a failed attempt to free up cash for Hamilton.
The Rangers are linked to Justin Upton, toying with the idea as a backup plan for Hamilton. Now that he is left, the Rangers should be fully focused on trading for the Diamondback. The Diamondbacks have been asking for shortstop Elvis Andrus in the deal. Should the Rangers include him in the deal the team will actually worsen overall as a team.
The Rangers will probably have to give up their top prospect Mike Olt to make the deal at this point. Hamilton’s leaving really pushes the Rangers and Angels into one of the top rivalries in the MLB. A cash war has ensued and so far the Angels have won two for two, stealing C.J. Wilson away last off season.
The Oakland Athletics now find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. Moneyball almost worked last year, but star pitcher Brandon McCarthy left the team for Arizona. Billy Beane will once again have to find his deals and make his usual under the radar deals. The A’s should focus on their product off the field and make a push on new found fans or find a new stadium quickly. Without a proper cash flow the A’s could find themselves becoming the AL’s minor leagues system once again.
The Mariners and Astros are up a creek without a paddle as both teams can not hold a candle to any team in the MLB let alone their division.
The American League West has put the league on notice with this signing. Hamilton is not worth that much money, despite his game changing stats. This hurts baseball more than it hurts hit as contract prices continue to rise at a steep rate. Once again, the gap between small market teams and the big spenders is widening.