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Shocker: Josh Hamilton signs a five-year, $125 million deal with the Angels

Dec 13, 2012, 1:55 PM EDT

The hot stove season always takes unexpected turns, and this afternoon it took the most unexpected turn we’ve seen in some time.  Seemingly out of nowhere the Los Angeles Angels swooped in and signed Josh Hamilton.  Legendary L.A. radio man Joe McDonnell had the first news that a deal with close. Within an hour it was reported by multiple sources, starting with ESPN Dallas, that the Angels and Hamilton had reached deal.  Fox’s Jon Paul Morosi was the first to report that it was a five-year deal. The money: $125 million.

This makes it two years running that the Angels have signed the best available free agent hitter, with Albert Pujols coming into the fold.  It also marks the second straight year that the Angels have signed away the Rangers top departing free agent, with C.J. Wilson heading to the Angels last year as well.  The year before that Mike Napoli made a circuitous journey from Anaheim to the Rangers, helping Texas win the pennant.

This is the best rivalry in baseball now and it’s not even close.  Heck, maybe the second best rivalry — or rivalry to be — involves the Angels and the Dodgers.  Each L.A. team is lapping the field in terms of big money signings, with each fighting to become or remain the darlings of the nation’s second largest media market. It had appeared that the newly-free-spending Dodgers were regaining that title for keeps, but with Hamilton in the fold down in Orange County, the war for the hearts and minds of L.A. baseball fans is ON.

With the caveat that, yes, we said this last year too, it’s probably safe to say that the Angels are the favorites in the AL West. Their potential lineup is fantastic:

Trout CF
Callaspo 3B
Pujols 1B
Hamilton RF
Morales DH
Trumbo LF
Kendrick 2B
Iannetta C
Aybar SS

Or Trumbo could play third base with Hamilton in right, Trout in left and Peter Bourjos in center. And Vernon Wells is still knocking around. The point is, no matter what Mike Scioscia does, he has plenty of options to choose from. More importantly, so does GM Jerry Dipoto, who could now deal Trumbo or Bourjos for pitching help. R.A. Dickey, anyone?

Not that we can crown anyone just yet.  Again, we thought the Angels won it all with the Pujols and Wilson signings last year, and that didn’t work out.  And let’s remember, with respect to players they have in common — Mike Napoli and C.J. Wilson — the Rangers have done a pretty good job of out-evaluating the Angels over the past couple of years. Of course, that was before the Angels turned over their front office.

But no matter what happens, the AL West just got a lot more fun, and it already was the most fun division in baseball.

111 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. uyf1950 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    The Rangers could be in a world of hurt if Hamilton goes somewhere else. If it’s any consolation Napoli’s deal with the Red Sox still hasn’t been finalized. 3 years / $39,000,001 should get it done.

    • historiophiliac - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:27 PM

      ha ha “If”

    • blacksables - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:35 PM

      Everyone keeps talking about the Angels / Rangers.

      I seem to remember Oakland winning the division last year.

      • texassportsfan2 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:38 PM

        yeah but that was a fluke

      • dcfan4life - Dec 13, 2012 at 4:17 PM

        No, it wasnt, and this is just another key part of a back to back world series team that has departed. The Angels are better, the Athletics are good, the Mariners and Astros are still bad. So its a 3 headed race. Gotta favor the Angels next season now.

  2. cur68 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:04 PM

    Maybe its just society but in my opinion there is no way Vernon Wells is going anywhere. Too much money to eat. He’s gonna ride pine rather than boat and he does have some value…as what I’m not sure, but, well . . . he’s a nice guy, so its Frenchy-style value, but I understand that stuff is all the rage. Other than Wells, that’s a gonna be SOME freaking good hitting lineup there.

    • historiophiliac - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:28 PM

      Rage!

      • cur68 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:30 PM

        Oh I think some Rage Water™ would be good or the Angels in general. I think they should play with some more fire in their bellies. A few bench clearers this season. Some pitching inside. Maybe a flung bat or two. Yeah. Rage Water™. That’s the ticket.

      • historiophiliac - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:40 PM

        Or Tiger blood. Whatever.

      • cur68 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:42 PM

        I’m stunned you don’t recommend the Tiger Blood™ that for your boys. I bet if they got around some of THAT they’d be #winning.

      • stlouis1baseball - Dec 14, 2012 at 10:11 AM

        Rageilicious!

  3. El Bravo - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    If Rangers – Hamilton = Angels + Hamilton, then Hamilton * 2 + Angels = Rangers

  4. poprox13 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    Josh should have a hell of a time in LA :)

    • cosanostra71 - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:01 PM

      He signed with the Angels, not the Dodgers. Angels are in Anaheim.

      • poprox13 - Dec 13, 2012 at 5:47 PM

        Why are they called the LA Angels then? Close enough, right?

      • cosanostra71 - Dec 13, 2012 at 6:00 PM

        If you consider an hour drive and a culture change close, I guess. I work across the street from Angels Stadium, it is very much in Anaheim.

  5. giantboy99 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    Sad to say but it looks like the Rangers run is over.

    • thereisaparty - Dec 13, 2012 at 5:34 PM

      The Rangers also signed a TV-deal worth billions and play in a major market. The front office seems adept at evaluating talent, especially internationally. I don’t think one signing by the Angels makes a huge difference (their rotation is still shaky). Baseball is not easy to predict.

  6. gnrfan8804 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    Way to blow that one, seattle. Another mediocre year coming. At least we wont be last place (thank you, astros)

    • kgsmith - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:51 PM

      You have to admit though, they did make serious runs at players this year.. I think they offered Hamilton a wii, Swisher a seafood dinner.. But seriously, You would think that with Felix in Seattle, and Seattle saying they wont trade him, you would think they would bring in more talent around him.. to make money, you have to spend some…

    • sportsnut101 - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:00 PM

      seattle mistake was waiting to long they didnt hav leverage they needed to make offer right away n more then 3 yrs

  7. kpow55 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    I really hope they are just driving up the price for the Rangers…. Halos don’t need this head case. Give your 3 young guys a full season to gel with V. Wells serving as the Veteran voice.

    Yes, Wells may be overpriced but he’s a decent leader for that young OF, Hamilton, not so much.

    • kkolchak - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:37 PM

      Wells also has “intangibles,” right?

      • kpow55 - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:45 PM

        Wells is a pro athlete making 21 mil this year, you have a job in a cubicle with an intangible idea your opinion matters outside your little area.

    • cosanostra71 - Dec 13, 2012 at 4:14 PM

      Glad you aren’t the Angels GM. Vernon Wells as the clubhouse leader?

  8. hardballtalkusername - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    This is eerily similar to their Pujols approach last season.

  9. bricktop02 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    Who cares? The hamilton circus is as old as the hockey lockout.

    • blackandbluedivision - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:49 PM

      Low blow man, low blow.

  10. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    Can he pitch? Last time I checked the Angels already have a few guys who are pretty good at hitting a baseball. Scoring 10 runs a game won’t do any good if their pitching can’t stop the other team from scoring 11.

    • El Bravo - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:21 PM

      I think the plan is for Weaver to pitch the first 2-3 innings every single game. That way, they can start the 3rd or 4th each game with a 10-0 lead and then end the game winning 55-45 (on average).

    • temporarilyexiled - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:27 PM

      Or if they sign Hamilton, maybe they’re able to move an outfielder or two for more pitching. Losing Hunter matters, and Wells isn’t what he used to be. Hamilton-Bourjos-Trout? Are you kidding me? That’s a pretty good outfield, no? This makes more sense than standing pat.

      • cur68 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:38 PM

        hell yes Wells “isn’t what he used to be”. Dunno what he is now. A hat? A brooch? A pterodactyl? He hasn’t been much good at baseball since 2008. Since he’s been an Angel his best OPS was .682. Once upon a time though…

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:47 PM

        Do they really think they can get back any kind of top-flight starter or even a bullpen guy for the pieces they’d be willing to move? Bourjos, Wells, and Trumbo won’t fetch a whole lot on their own. Even as a package that’s not spectacular and wouldn’t make sense anyways because they need at least one of those guys.

    • mrchainbluelightning - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:09 PM

      Is their pitching so bad they are giving up that many runs?
      I have little to no doubt that the Angels are going to score more than they give up and be contenders all season long.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:21 PM

        If Wilson is mediocre again and their #3 is Blanton, then yes, they certainly could be that bad.

      • mrchainbluelightning - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:34 PM

        Their staff was bad last season yet they were winning more games than they were losing.

        I’m not handing them the West, but they will push 88-90 wins again.

  11. losangelesfan - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    YYEEEHHHAAAWWW!!!

  12. beerjunkie69 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    As a Rangers fan I’d hate to see $20M year go to Hamilton on any type of 3+ year deal. He is injury prone, can’t play worth a crap during day games, and heading for an early decline from the substance abuse of his younger days. Let another team be foolish enough to give him $100M+ over the next 4+ years. And for it to be the Angels, well then, even better! Sign him LAA!!

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:25 PM

      booo hoooo,

      stop being bitter, the Great Ryan did everything to trash this kid and still wanted him to perform.
      i’m soooooooooooo happy he won’t be back at the Rangers

  13. beefytrout - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    Good luck with all that, Angels.

  14. number42is1 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    5 years? WOW! you gotta figure that its gotta be worth 125 Mil at least. i see that CA is the place where all the money is now… and not just from the entertainment industry.

    • jwbiii - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:42 PM

      We have a winner! 5/$125M it is.
      http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/mlb/story/_/id/8744414/josh-hamilton-agreed-deal-los-angeles-angels-sources-say

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:53 PM

        This is insane. $25 mil per for a guy who will decline throughout the length of that contract and doesn’t address the Angels’ needs.

        How did they figure this money wasn’t better spent on Greinke? I know crazy money and a lot of years for a pitcher isn’t exactly a smart deal to make but surely he would be more helpful to this team than Hamilton will be.

  15. tc4306 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    Suspecting that the Rangers, once they did not get Grienke, have decided to “go young.” They have some nice pieces in Davrish, Ogondo, Felize, Perez, Profar, Martin, and Olt. They’d get a nice return for the likes of Kinsler, Cruz, Lewis, Holland, and maybe even Beltre. With what they have plus what they would get, they could be back knocking on the door in 2015, if not as early as 2014. Plus, they would not be hamstrung by long term, big money contracts to declining players.

    • paperlions - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:36 PM

      Yep, when you have a great farm system, you need to use it…and the best use of it is to balance trading away pieces to supplement the MLB roster with integrating the young talent. With Profar and Olt coming up, they have plenty of offense to cover the loss of Hamilton…not sure who will play CF at this point, but they have plenty of options for every other position on the diamond.

  16. sdelmonte - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    The balance of spending power has clearly shifted to LA for the moment. And the two western divisions, with all that money and all those stars and the closest things to dynasties in baseball these days, are powerhouses now, even with the Astros headed to the AL West.

    But just wait two years, when the tax is paid and the Yankees can start to spend again.

    • paperlions - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:38 PM

      Yes, but like the Yankees and Mets before them….they really are not spending the money very wisely. The Pujols deal already looks bad….just 9 years to go. Would it be surprising if in 2014 people are saying that both deals look bad, only 4 and 8 years to go?

      • paperlions - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:40 PM

        In 2017, the Angels will be spending $50M on a 36 yr old Hamilton and a 38 yr old Pujols. Ouch.

      • historiophiliac - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:53 PM

        That really hurts you, doesn’t it?

      • paperlions - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:58 PM

        Nah, I’m thick skinned (and thick headed), but it’s gonna put a crimp in the Angels style/production.

        I know people love to fantasize about the future, but signing 32 yr old FAs to long and high AAV contracts is paying a premium to buy into a declining market.

        Look at Pujols’ numbers. He’s still good, but he is a shadow of 2009 Pujols….then look at what Hamliton has done. He was fantastic in 2010, since then he has been good…but that year is probably going to stand as the outlier in his career. Yes, the names look great next to each other on the lineup card….but this will be 2013 versions…not the younger ones.

      • Francisco (FC) - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:02 PM

        Considering the mega TV deals, the money is the least of the hurt (After all, it either goes to the player or the owners, Average Joe won’t see a penny). What could hurt is if you end up with Vernon Wells part 2 and part 3. Roster spots that need clearing. But I don’t see Pujols turning into Vernon Wells anytime soon. Hamilton, don’t know it all depends.

        For the Angels I guess they just have to risk the real possibility that they will be locked into contracts with guys giving only above average value over replacement down the turnpike.

      • historiophiliac - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:14 PM

        Well, don’t read what Old Hoss had to say about him then.

      • paperlions - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:16 PM

        You know I don’t use the twitter…now I’m gonna have to go make a special trip (thanks for the heads up :-) ).

  17. losangelesfan - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    Bourjos and some spare parts for R.A. Dickey next.

  18. modellforprez - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    he is in rehab right now. spoke to my mans n nem lil G-lock pooky loc. he s*ld J.H 4 50 pieces of hard ball rocks son. I ain’t even bullshittin this time. the HARD headed never learn

  19. scouter2012 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    I’m really disappointed with the Mariners right now!

  20. losanginsight - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    santa ana will be snowing

  21. shawndc04 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    Now Adam LaRoche is probably in play for the Rangers. Sigh.

  22. sportsdrenched - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    This is juicy. The Rangers-Angels rivalry is my favorite in MLB right now. And I agree that while the Angels seem to be backing up the Brinks Trucks and buy everything but Greece…the Rangers appear to be out evaluating them.

  23. butchhuskey - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    Somewhere Billy Beane is flipping over a table and yelling, “WON’T THIS GUY JUST LEAVE THE DIVISION ALREADY!!!!”

  24. Stiller43 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    Trout, pujols, hamilton? DAMN

    • cur68 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:44 PM

      Trumbo, too. Double DAMN.

      • historiophiliac - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:51 PM

        Really? My bf Torii Hunter plays better and he’s “old.”

      • cur68 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:55 PM

        Yeah, yeah. Your boy toy been a stud for a long time BUT Trumbo is more likely to get better going forward while Torii…well, it’ll be a sad day when he hangs up the spurs and I mean that sincerely but that day is sooner rather than later.

      • paperlions - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:05 PM

        I don’t think Trumbo is likely to get any better. He’ll swing at just about anything off speed off the plate. Pitch recognition sucks. As soon as AL pitchers remembered that, his production died. He hit 4 HRs in the last 2 months of the season….the power is there, but there are a LOT of ways to get him out.

      • historiophiliac - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:17 PM

        Well, we don’t need him for another 5 years. We’d be glad if he retires after he gets a ring with us. :)

      • cur68 - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:18 PM

        Foxed you this time, ‘Lions. Its is entirely defensible to say that Trumbo will improve and Hunter will not. Trumbo has the next 10 years to work on it. Hunter has the next ten years to work on . . . osteoporosis, I suppose. The likely hood of Trumbo improving and Hunter declining is a pretty safe bet. No offence to your crush there, ‘philliac, but brother be gettin’ OLD.

      • historiophiliac - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:23 PM

        I don’t know how many times I have to tell you not to make cracks about my age…Beavers = not bright.

      • paperlions - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:25 PM

        Hunter could get a lot worse before Trumbo passed him….and it is more likely that Trumbo is worse in 2013 he was in 2012…but yeah, Hunter doesn’t really have a prayer of repeating his 2012, he was fantastic last year. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if Hunter’s 2012 was better than Hamilton’s 2013 will be (it was better than Hamilton’s 2012).

      • historiophiliac - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:37 PM

        Ok, compare their career numbers. Hunter doesn’t have to repeat 2012 to be better.

  25. trouteason27 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    For all you trolling idiots, you take hunter’s salary, santana’s salary, haren’s salary and bring in hamilton. Thats a win for the angels. Hunter was good, but he doesnt put up Hamilton numbers. Haren and Ervin sucked last year. And the Angels dont have pitching, what about Jared Weaver, CJ Wilson, Tommy Hanson, Blanton and Richards. Thats not bad for a team who has Mike Trout, Hamilton and Pujols. So quit your trolling.

    • Ben - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:03 PM

      It’s hardly trolling.
      You’re right that those subtractions add Hamilton in terms of payroll, but he’s a monstrous risk. That’s undeniable.
      And the Angels don’t have pitching. Weaver pitched 50 fewer innings this last year, lost a full strikeout per nine, and his fastball velocity has declined by two mph since 2010.
      CJ Wilson is a #3 starter. He’s a good #3, but he’s nothing special, really.
      Tommy Hanson is a massive question mark. He could be out of baseball by July. Or on the DL for a very long time. Or he could be damn good. Who knows?
      Joe Blanton–I’m calling it; he’s better than CJ Wilson in 2013.
      Garrett Richards, the man of a 6/4.5 K/BB ratio?

      And who the hell is in their bullpen? I don’t even know. Hopefully Ryan Madson bounces back?

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