With all the money the Los Angeles Dodgers have spent — especially in the past few days — to acquire talent for their roster, it stood to reason that the crosstown Angels would reply in a big way. Now they’ve jumped into the deep end of the pool again with the signing of free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125-million deal on Thursday.
It’s a high-risk, high-reward scenario. Hamilton has had difficulty staying on the straight and narrow path off the field, and his difficulties with alcohol and other drugs are well-known: he even has a full-time “sobriety coach.” Between the white lines, he can be one of the most imposing players in the game as a three-time All-Star, American League Most Valuable Player and ALCS MVP in 2010.
A career .390 hitter with massive power, this past season Hamilton became the 16th player in history to hit four home runs in a game. He has also had lapses of concentration in the field, one of which directly contributed to the Rangers losing the American League West divisional title to the Oakland A’s on the final day of the regular season.
Hamilton joins a lineup which already has highly paid first baseman Albert Pujols ($240 million), legt-handed pitcher C.J. Wilson ($77.5 million) and American League Rookie of the Year outfielder Mike Trout. Not only did they respond to the spending spree at Chavez Ravine — the Dodgers have dropped more than $560 million in the past 11 months on players such as starting right-hander Zack Greinke (six years, $147 million) and rookie left-hander Ryu Hyun-jin for six years and $36 million after paying a $25.7-million posting fee to his club in South Korea — but the Angels have also made it clear that they will do whatever they can to get into the playoffs.
So while it’s happy days in Orange County, the division rival Texas Rangers are less than pleased. General manager Jon Daniels isn’t happy that his club didn’t get a chance to match the offer. “It was our full expectation that the phone call was going to be before he signed, and certainly not after,” Daniels said in an interview.
“Josh had indicated recently, last week, that he felt it might be time to move on, but we were still talking. We had had additional conversations this week that I thought had moved in a positive direction.”
This big deal is expected to have a big impact on the Angels. However, that’s also what general manager Jerry DiPoto must have thought when the club paid heavily to get Pujols and Wilson last season, yet they finished four games back of the wild-card winners and five games behind the division champions. Perhaps they’ll finally get over that hump with a brand-new Angel in the outfield.