Remember like an hour ago when I attempted tossing cold water on Josh Hamilton-to-Los Angels rumors? Well the Hot Stove just brought that cold water to a triumphant boil.
The entire universe has all but confirmed Josh Hamiton is about to sign a five-year, $125 Million deal with the Los Angeles Angels. The five years thing is huge, as early rumblings pointed to a three or four year deal for the injury-prone outfielder. The impact of Josh Hamilton joining the Angels will reverberate throughout baseball, he not-at-all profoundly said.
But seriously: wow. This is happening.
What does this mean for the Angels now?
Plenty. The Angels have one of the most fearsome lineups in baseball, probably the best offense since…the Angels last year. Aside from name value and salary, how much better will Josh Hamilton be, outside Arlington, than Torii Hunter was in 2012? Hunter’s 130 wRC+ wasn’t much worse than Hamilton’s 140 wRC+ in a season in which Hunter posted a higher WAR than the newest Angel by an not insignificant margin. Hunter is more durable and a better fielder, though Hamilton is obviously the more powerful batter.
Adding Josh Hamilton all but ensures Mike Trout plays center field every day, which is good news for all mankind. The Angels will look to trade Peter Bourjos or Mark Trumbo, two pre-arb players who are good at very specific things. LAA might also think about trading Kendrys Morales, as he becomes a free agent at season’s end.
The Angels greatest area of need is pitching. The rotation currently shapes up as Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Tommy Hanson, Joe Blanton, and Garrett Richards. One of those pitchers is very good, one is pretty good and mostly durable, the other is average at best but not awful, one is very young and the other used to be good and somewhat looks like James Hetfield.
The only thing we know for sure about that Angels rotation is it isn’t good enough to carry a team with “World Series or bust” written all over it. The Angels are going to attempt moving their cheap, controlable outfielders for pitching.
The first name everyone jumped on was R.A. Dickey. The Mets need a center fielder and the Angels need a starter. Would Peter Bourjos alone get the deal done? Not on your life. Would both Trumbo and Bourjos and another prospect from the Angels threadbare system? Maybe, thought the Mets don’t have much need for another player in the Lucas Duda mold.
As much as Vernon Wells serves a punchline thanks to his incredible contract, his role is an important one with the Angels this year. He will serve as Hamilton’s injury caddy as well as a defensive replacement during last innings for either Trumbo or even Hamilton. Also: he isn’t going anywhere so the Angels might as well use him while he’s around. They could do worse (but not more expensive. That would be impossible.)
What does this mean for the Rangers?
The Rangers are left like a jilted lover at the alter. All the talk of Hamilton’s camp allowing Texas to match any deal went out the window, as Jon Heyman reports. Not that the Rangers were going to add a fifth year to their standing offer to Hamilton, if you believe everything you read.
The Rangers get a sandwich pick as compensation for Hamilton and still have many options at their disposal. They can move one of their highly touted prospects or even move Ian Kinsler to the outfield. Pitching is their greatest need as they are a baseball team.
The Rangers have so many good young players to trade and are no shrinking violets on the free agent market. Michael Bourn or Nick Swisher offer very different skills but each man would fit into the Rangers balanced attack.
What does this mean for the Angels in the future?
— Bill Petti (@BillPetti) December 13, 2012
This means we must never, ever count the Angels out. Ever. They are the new December champions, adding huge pieces and splashing cash around like never before. The Battle for Los Angeles begins in earnest once again. A World Series win is a terrific way to quiet the “they’re paying Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols HOW MUCH in 2017?” cries. It goes almost all the way, if we’re being honest.
The Angels signed an injury-prone slugger who swings at everything to a five-year contract, making him the highest paid outfielder in the history of the game in the process. They pay his backup $21 Mil a year and none of it matters if the Angels win the World Series. That is the lesson we must learn here.
All the concerns and worries about Hamilton’s future and his past or his approach or his numbers outside the hitter’s haven in Texas were considered by the Angels brass, who went ahead and signed the 2010 AL MVP to a nine figure contract anyway.
Because he will help them win. And he will help them draw some attention away from the Dodgers, but mostly help them win. Sure, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton aren’t likely to help the Angels win more than Mike Trout will help but such is the cost of doing business on this scale. That both players will age quickly and their contact rates offer bright red flags of warning doesn’t matter so long as they stay elite for another year or two. This is the dangerous game the Angels now play.
I was told money was tight but I guess the Arte had money hidden under a Mattress. Business is business but don’t lie.
Southern California’s huge TV market sprays a torrent of revenue all over the new center of the baseball world. The Angels and Dodgers are fighting a turf war of epic proportions. The take your $/WAR nonsense and tell you to shove it. They are almost playing a different game than every one else – off the field.
On the field they still need to pitch and hit and field. Both the Dodgers and Angels have star-filled rosters but neither team is perfect. Neither team is a shoo-in to make the playoffs, both from a talent and “baseball!” point of view. The high-priced talent currently driving up real estate prices along the Pacific Ocean gives these two teams a great chance to meet in a freeway series few would ever forget.