It has been a very tough couple of years for Josh Hamilton in Los Angeles. After signing a 5-year, $125 million contract, nothing has gone right for the left-handed hitter. Since hitting .285 with 43 HR and 128 RBI in his last season in Texas, Hamilton has only hit .255 with 31 HR and 123 RBI with the Angels in two seasons. In 2014, he missed almost half the season due to injury and when he finally arrived in time for the playoffs, he went hitless in 13 at-bats.
When you didn’t think it could get worse, it did. Hamilton had offseason surgery on his shoulder which required him to miss six to eight weeks. This was only 21 days before the Angels began workouts in Arizona. While the details are still very fuzzy, Hamilton willingly admitted to relapsing and abusing drugs and alcohol once again. On top of that, Hamilton filed for divorce on April 19th.
Since the relapse admission, an arbitrator ruled that Hamilton did not violate his treatment program. This didn’t go over well with the Angels, as they believed it violated some of their agreements in their contract. There was “wording” in the contract between the Angels and Hamilton that would allow for the Angels to terminate his contract if he were to fall back into drugs and alcohol. With that being said, not much materialized after this information was released and if something had happened in the way of violating the contract, the MLBPA would have fought to the death to defend Hamilton’s rights.
The Angels knew they didn’t have a case and by the way they had embarrassed him in the public eye, everyone knew he was never going to wear an Angels’ uniform ever again. It came down to either a buyout or a trade.
On April 24, 2015, the Texas Rangers and Angels agreed to a deal that would send Hamilton back to Texas. The deal will not be officially announced until Monday, but it sounds like the Angels will be eating up roughly $68 million of the remaining $83 million on Hamilton’s contract. It also sounds like there will not be any other players involved in this deal – but that could change in the next day or so.
I, for one, wish the best for Josh Hamilton. He has had one of the greatest stories in recent baseball history; a #1 overall pick turned bust due to drugs and alcohol, later figuring out his life and becoming one of the best sluggers in baseball. One of the most memorable moments in baseball this past decade was Hamilton slugging 28 HR in the 1st round of the 2008 HR Derby. The man had been down and out for the past eight years of his life and finally put it all together. We were all pulling for him. He had finally made it through.
Drug and alcohol addiction is no joke. I think we all know someone who has dealt with these issues and it is a very scary path to take. Hamilton faced these issues years ago and overcame them. While I’m no expert on drug and alcohol abuse, I do know it’s very easy for previous abusers to fall back down the slippery slope. What impresses me is that Hamilton self-admitted to his relapse and was willing to take responsibility for his actions. I find it very unfortunate that Hamilton’s admission has been unnecessarily, and potentially unlawfully, dragged through the media. I hope that Josh Hamilton can recover and be the comeback kid once again.