Two separate but anonymous sources familiar with the matter disclosed Friday that the Texas Rangers were ready to welcome Josh Hamilton back but they were still negotiating with the Angels the final terms of the deal.
The move comes after an extended conflict between Hamilton and Los Angeles over his low performance in the past two seasons and a drug relapse this winter, which, surprisingly, did not lead to his suspension.
However, the deal is far from being simple as the Rangers will get Hamilton and a lot of money from the Angels in exchange for the outfielder’s rights. According to the sources, the Angels do not want Hamilton back on the field with the club in 2015 and it is less likely they ever want him to return.
The club still has to pay Hamilton $64.8 million until 2017, but the sum is under negotiation. The sources claim that the Rangers’ expenditures for the deal would be symbolic.
Nevertheless, due to Josh’s special circumstances – his drug relapse, his recent divorce of his wife, and a missed spring training due to a shoulder surgery and rehabilitation – and the amount of money involved, the two clubs will need extra time to finalize the deal.
One of the sources said that the announcement should be made as soon as Monday, while Hamilton would be ready to play by mid-May after a proper training.
Jon Daniels, the Rangers’ GM, who welcomed Josh to his team after the 2007 season, declined to comment. And so did manager Jeff Banister.
But Rangers players were less secretive. Everybody seemed eager for a reunion with Josh. On Friday, they publicly said that they were open to Hamilton’s return and ready to support him as long as he won’t be a distraction.
Baseman Adrian Beltre hoped that Hamilton was still the player that the whole team knew and that he would help them win some games again.
“As a teammate, we’d do everything we can to help him stay focused on baseball and to keep things as simple as possible,”
Beltre added Friday.
Elvis Andrus also believes that Josh is a valuable asset to the team. He said Friday that he would lend Josh all his support because the entire club expected him to show up, start playing and simply help them win.
But Hamilton might not be the man his Texas fans used to know. During the last two seasons in Southern California, he had a very hard time both on and off the field since his drug addiction was many times stronger than he was.
While playing for the Angels, who had offered him a $125 million contract for five years, he scored only .255, had 31 homers and failed to play 40 games on a yearly average. But during the seasons played with the Rangers, he had .301, 142 homers and missed only 30 games on average, mainly because of injuries.
Yet, during the last half of year, his circumstances became more complex. This winter, the Angels were already looking for a way to trade him, and even contacted the Rangers for this purpose. But negotiations with the Rangers went no where as the club was not interested in a big financial investment at that moment.
Image Source: MFST