The Angels strike again! It was a big surprise to many in the baseball world when it was announced yesterday that the biggest bat on the free agent market this winter ended up in the same place that the biggest bat of last winter (Albert Pujols) ended up, Anaheim.
The Angels signed Hamilton to a five-year $125 million deal. The addition of the all-star outfielder to the Angels lineup gives them one of the best lineups in the majors and will is one that should be giving pitchers headaches for years to come.
When they lost out on their primary target of the off-season starting pitcher, Zack Greinke earlier this week to the Dodgers it seemed that the Angels were done making moves for the winter. They already had signed starter Joe Blanton and reliever Sean Burnett to contracts and had declined to offer free agent outfielder Torii Hunter a contract. All of those moves seemed to signal that the Angels front office was trying to keep their payroll under the $159 million mark that they paid to last year’s team.
The Angels though did not want to be out done by their preverbal big brothers in the Dodgers. They seemed to have the upper hand in the L.A. area arms race for this season. They made a flurry of moves not only in the off season, when they signed Greinke, but the Dodgers also traded for shortstop/third baseman Hanley Ramierez, first baseman, Adrian Gonzales, outfielder, Carl Crawford and starter Josh Beckett around the trade deadline last season.
While on it’s face, the quiet signing of Josh Hamilton is puzzling at best; it gives the Angels the ammunition to stay competitive with the Dodgers. It also puts them in the position to trade some of their depth at first base/DH and outfield for a starting pitcher. Another reason the signing makes sense for the Angels is because it gives their lineup a power hitting left-handed hitter in a lineup that has been right-handed heavy for years. Also don’t forget that by Hamilton joining the Angels, it takes a weapon away from the division rival, Texas Rangers.
The Rangers led by Hamilton, won the A.L. West for the past three years and have seemingly been unstoppable for the Angels. By signing Hamilton, the Angels have put the rest of the A.L. West and league on notice that the Angels will not sit on their hands and watch the postseason anymore. Even with all of the positives of the Hamilton signing for the Angels, it doesn’t come without some risks.
Hamilton has a history of injuries and has only played more than 150 games once in his career. Along with his history of injuries, he joins a crowded outfield in Anaheim.
This was a problem that the Angels had last year and it was solved for a while, when Torii Hunter left for Detroit in free agency. It seemed like Peter Bourjos was finally going to get his shot to be a starting outfielder for the first time since Mike Trout came up and took over the centerfield job.
One has to wonder if the addition of Hamilton could cause some distraction and division in the clubhouse, especially if the trade market for Bourjos isn’t a prevalent as the Angels hope.
As Josh Hamilton gets fitted his Halo. the signing by the Angels is a calculated gamble that could payoff in numerous ways. It already gives them one of the best of lineups in the major leagues for years to come, on paper. Will the numbers on paper turn winning championships on the field? The Angels hope so.