One day after General Manager Jerry Dipoto said he didn’t feel like a major move was “imminent, pressing or required,” the Angels reportedly made a major move on Thursday.
ESPN Dallas is reporting that highly sought free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton has informed the Texas Rangers that he’s signing with the Angels.
Multiple reports, the first by Joe McDonnell of Fox Sports West, said the Angels have been in “serious” negotiations with Hamilton on a five-year, $125-million deal, a move that would free up the team to use a young outfielder such as Mark Trumbo or Peter Bourjos in a trade for a pitcher.
Among the possible trade targets under such a scenario would be New York Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who won the 2012 National League Cy Young Award but has been unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension with the club.
Dipoto has said throughout the winter that he was pleased with his position-playing club, which features slugging first base baseman Albert Pujols and star outfielder Mike Trout, but the addition of the left-handed-hitting Hamilton would provide more balance to a predominantly right-handed-hitting lineup.
Hamilton, 31, was the first overall pick in the 1999 draft by the Tampa Bay Rays, but injuries and an addiction to drugs and alcohol derailed his career for several years beginning in 2001, and he was on baseball’s restricted list from 2003 through 2005.
When he finally reached the big leagues in 2007, Hamilton quickly emerged as a star, batting .304 with 32 home runs and 130 runs batted in for the Rangers in 2008 and winning American League most valuable player honors in 2010, when he hit .359 with 32 homers and 100 RBIs.
Hamilton, who was also being pursued by Texas, Seattle and Philadelphia, hit .285 with 43 homers and 128 RBIs this past season, which included a torrid April in which he hit .395 with nine homers and 25 RBIs and a memorable May 8 game in Baltimore, when he became the 16thplayer in major-league history to hit four home runs in a game.
But after hitting .308 with 27 homers and 75 RBIs in the first half, Hamilton cooled considerably in the second half, hitting .259 with 16 homers and 53 RBIs. He also had a career-high 162 strikeouts on the season, and for much of July, August and September, left-handed pitchers often retired him with ease.