Angels OF Josh Hamilton could be facing MLB suspension
(Dallas Morning News) NEW YORK – Former Texas Rangers outfielder and publicity lightning rod Josh Hamilton was in New York meeting with MLB officials Wednesday and faces possible league discipline, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, citing an anonymous baseball executive, said Hamilton’s offense was “worse” than a Performance Enhancing Drug violation. Hamilton has a long history of substance abuses, during which he had at least two embarrassing relapses during his five seasons with the Rangers.
CBSSports.com baseball insider Jon Heyman, citing a source, reports that Hamilton confessed to going on a binge that involved cocaine a couple months ago.
Before you think about how bad the Angels contract with Hamilton now looks, consider this: If he’s suspended, whether for 50 games or the season, the Angels won’t be liable for his salary. That might give the Angels upwards of $8 million in payroll flexibility to further improve their club this season.
That is significant, especially with Philadelphia lefty Cole Hamels, a Southern California native, on the trade market. Hamels is due $23.5 million this season; Hamilton is due $24.5 million.
And by the looks of everything, the Angels weren’t counting on much from Hamilton this year, anyway. He waited all winter to have shoulder surgery, then underwent a procedure in early February that will likely keep him out until May. He wasn’t even in spring training and doesn’t currently have a locker in the Angels’ clubhouse, but has rather been rehabbing at a friend’s ranch outside of Houston. The Angels, according to the Times, agreed to the odd arrangement, which might be a clue the club feels its less of a distraction to have Hamilton gone..
In the first two-years of a back-loaded, five-year, $125 million deal, Hamilton managed a .255 average, .316 OBP and .741 OPS with 31 homers. By comparison, Mitch Moreland of the Rangers has a .235 average, .299 OBP and .712 OPS with 25 homers in 300 fewer plate appearances for about one-tenth of Hamilton’s salary. He alienated management over those two seasons and that was before the shoulder issue.
And we haven’t even mentioned the decision by Hamilton’s wife, Katie, to join the cast of “Real Housewives of Orange County.”
It all adds up to a very awkward situation for the Angels that would produce only one potential positive outcome for the club: the removal of Josh Hamilton from the picture.