Rangers close to reacquiring outfielder Josh Hamilton from Angels

ByJerry Crasnick ESPN logo
Saturday, April 25, 2015

Josh Hamilton likely is headed back to the Texas Rangers.

The Los Angeles Angels are "very close" to finalizing a deal to send Hamilton to the Rangers, a baseball source confirmed to ESPN.com on Friday. Hamilton would be rejoining the franchise with which he made five straight All-Star teams and won the American League MVP award in 2010. He also helped lead the Rangers to back-to-back AL pennants in 2010 and '11.

MLB.com earlier reported the deal, with sources telling the website a trade likely will be announced Monday after legal work between the teams is completed.

The Angels would not get a player back in exchange for Hamilton, a baseball source told ESPN.com's Jim Bowden.

When asked about the reports from media outlets that the move could happen in the next few days, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he has had no discussions that Hamilton's status had changed.

The Angels owe Hamilton $83 million through 2017. Yahoo! Sports reported that the Rangers are expected to pay about $15 million, with Los Angeles paying the difference.

The Rangers and Angels began a three-game series in Anaheim on Friday, and most of the pregame chatter in both clubhouses revolved around Hamilton. Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre was teammates with Hamilton for two seasons, in 2011 and '12.

"If it does happen and he becomes a teammate, we're going to support him no matter what," Beltre said. "We'll do our best to help him think about baseball and not be a distraction. We know Josh and who he is. We hope he's healthy, his mind is in a good position and he has the support he needs to be the productive Josh that we all know he can be -- the Josh that helped us go to the World Series in 2011. Who doesn't need a guy like Josh Hamilton? There might be a little more media craziness or more questions about why he's here, but we'll deal with it."

Hamilton, 33, has been a major disappointment since signing a five-year, $125 million contract with the Angels in December 2012. He hit .255 with a .741 OPS in his first two seasons in Anaheim and has missed the start of this season with a shoulder injury.

He also suffered a substance-abuse relapse during the offseason and did not report to Angels spring camp in Arizona as he rehabbed his shoulder. Three weeks ago, an arbitration panel ruled that he would not be suspended -- paving the way for him to return in May once his shoulder has healed.

The Angels made it clear through their public comments that they were unhappy with the panel's decision and resistant to having the outfielder rejoin the team. General manager Jerry Dipoto said in a statement that the Angels had "serious concerns about Josh's conduct, health and behavior,'' and club president John Carpino told reporters that it "defies logic" that Hamilton wasn't suspended under MLB's drug program.

Earlier this month, owner Arte Moreno said he wasn't sure whether Hamilton ever would play again for the Angels. Moreno said Hamilton's contract contained language protecting the team against a relapse by the outfielder. The Major League Baseball Players Association later denied Moreno's assertion.

Angels players and coaches have supported Hamilton since his relapse. Scioscia and several teammates had dinner with him during the team's recent series in Houston.

Scioscia said he didn't think the discussion surrounding Hamilton's status has been a problem with the team.

"I don't think it's been a distraction with the guys in that clubhouse,'' the manager said before Friday's 3-2 win over the Rangers. "It's going to be resolved one way or the other in its own time.''

Even as he has struggled with the Angels the past two seasons, Hamilton still has hit well in Texas. In 70 plate appearances at Globe Life Park since 2013, he has hit .339 (21-of-62). Only Seattle Mariners second baseman Kyle Seager (.395) has posted a better average there over that span.

The Rangers, meanwhile, could use outfield help.

Their outfield ranks 29th and 28th this season in batting average (.194) and OPS (.576), respectively, entering Friday night.

Information from ESPN Stats & Information and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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