Saturday, April 25, 2015

Resolving the Josh Hamilton dispute

Reports Friday had it that the Texas Rangers are about to welcome back former MVP Josh Hamilton, resolving one of the uglier team-player disputes since George Steinbrenner roamed the earth.

While the pending trade won't resolve the larger issue of guaranteed contracts and the owners' desire to break them (which I went into in the Monday print column), it will resolve this specific one.

The Angels will apparently pay Hamilton some $68 million not to play for them the next three years. Texas will pick up just $5 million a year on the outfielder, which is less than the Twins are paying Mike Pelfrey. That's a high price to pay to appease the owner's snit. I guess Arte Moreno can afford it.

Hamilton is probably not the player he was in his first go-around with the Rangers, and it would be foolish to expect that. (It was foolish for the Angels to expect that when they signed him after the 2012 season.) He put up a .255 batting average in his two seasons with the Halos and set, in separate years, career lows in on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

Even so, he was, by OPS+, a better-than-average hitter in both seasons. This is a useful gamble by the Rangers. I hope Hamilton embarrasses the Angels when the division rivals meet. More than that, I hope the return to an environment where he has had success helps him in his struggle for sobriety.

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