Rangers Not Getting The Same Josh Hamilton They Knew
In a shocking development, estranged Angels’ slugger Josh Hamilton is rumoured to be close to being sent to his old team, the Texas Rangers. Hamilton, who is currently on the DL recovering from shoulder surgery, has put himself and the Angels club through quite the turmoil this past offseason having admitted to suffering a relapse to his drug and alcohol addiction. The whole Angels’ organization including owner, Arte Moreno have been vocal about their displeasure with Josh’s conduct and as such, his future with the team was up in the air.
The news of this reported trade first broke last night from Rangers’ MLB.com reporter, T.R. Sullivan via Twitter, and Fox’ Ken Rosenthal also revealed via Twitter that Texas will not send any players over to the Angels and they’ll pay less than $15M of the $83M remaining on Hamilton’s contract through 2017 (his age 36 season). Essentially, Anaheim is giving him away for nothing, which only speaks to just how unhappy they are with Josh’s behaviour and his performance since he signed his five-year, $125 million deal.
With that being said, the Rangers will get a buy low candidate that can’t be much worse than the production they’ve had thus far in their corner outfield spots. Shin-Soo Choo is only hitting .119/.245/.214, Jake Smolinski isn’t any better (.107/.306/.250) and the untested Carlos Peguero has been getting more at-bats lately hitting .238/.407/.381. Prospect Ryan Rua is also currently on the DL with a fracture in his right heel and could be out for another three weeks.
Even if this “trade” becomes official, the Rangers can’t expect Hamilton to be the Hamilton of old. Since jettisoning Arlington for Los Angeles, Josh has seen his strikeout rate increase (to a career high 28.4% in 2014) to a reduction in his HR/FB ratio (an average of 8.2% in Anaheim compared to 12.5% in Texas). Behold the following charts via Brooks Baseball that show the differences in his batting average and slugging between the two organizations:
Perhaps the Rangers can take some solace in the fact that Hamilton knows the Texas organization and vice versa. Getting him back healthy and into familiar confines (and a more hitter friendly ballpark) might give him a boost. Hamilton also showed positive signs last year for a bounce back campaign as he hit .295/.373/.449 in the first half of the season before he tailed off in the second half hitting only .228/.283/.377.
Of course the Rangers are taking a chance here, but it’s a chance that costs very little. Honestly, I’d be most curious to see how the Rangers faithful embrace him considering their fallout at the end of 2012. For a couple of outstanding views on Hamilton and his Rangers’ tenure, check out a piece by Baseball Hot Corner’s Matthew Roberts here, and one by the Star-Telegram’s Drew Davison here.