After weeks of speculation and rumors, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim traded former league MVP Josh Hamilton, and in the process revealed just how low the team will sink to save a dollar.
The trade will send Hamilton to the Texas Rangers, his former club of five years. The events leading up to his departure put the Angels in an unflattering light.
At a time when Hamilton needed the help and support from those close to him, the Los Angeles Angels turned its back on the former superstar, displaying a sense of remorselessness even professional sports teams would find shameful.
Hamilton’s story is well known among sports fans, not just those who follow baseball. He is an addict, one that has overcome substance and drug abuse to become a multi-millionaire all-star.
His struggle with addiction has been well documented, and it is something the Angels were fully aware of when they signed Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million contract in December 2012.
MLB ruled on April 3 that Hamilton would not be disciplined for a recent drug relapse, which did not sit well with Angels’ owner Arte Moreno and many in the organization. Instead of standing by Hamilton and providing a support system for their troubled star, the Angels focused their energy on how to send the former MVP away.
“It defies logic that Josh’s reported behavior is not a violation of his drug program,” Angels President John Carpino told the Los Angeles Times.
The Angels were hoping an arbitrator would rule Hamilton’s self-reported relapse would violate baseball’s drug treatment program, which would have allowed them to void the remaining $80 million on his contract.
Angels’ general manager Jerry Dipoto issued a statement soon after the arbitrator’s ruling, saying the team had serious concerns about Hamilton’s conduct, health and behavior.
“We are disappointed that he has broken an important commitment which he made to himself and his family, his teammates and our fans,” Dipoto said. “We are going to do everything possible he receives proper help for himself and for the well-being of his family,”
Apparently, Dipoto’s way of helping Hamilton was to alienate him from the team. While the arbitrator was in the process of making a decision, the Angels asked Hamilton to stay from the facilities, and even assigned his number and locker to another player.
The Angels’ treatment of Hamilton throughout this whole process has been shameful. They claimed to worry about his well-being, but have not been shy about publicly criticizing him and trying to turn the narrative against Hamilton.
Make no mistake, this, like most everything with team owners, is about money. Hamilton delivered consecutive underwhelming seasons in his first two years in Anaheim. His power and batting average declined, along with his ability to stay healthy.
The Angels were disappointed with his production, and saw his relapse as the perfect opportunity to void the remaining three years and $80 million left on his deal. When the plan backfired, they bit the financial bullet and traded him back to Texas.
As part of the deal, the Rangers will only be responsible for $7 million of Hamilton’s remaining contract, with the Angels picking the rest of the bill.
In the end, it was the Angels that broke their commitment to Hamilton. They tried taking advantage of Hamilton’s vulnerable position and failed miserably. The Angels got what they wanted, but they paid for it with their reputation, not their millions.