So by now you’ve probably heard… Josh Hamilton is likely headed back to the Texas Rangers in exchange for somewhere around $15 million in salary relief and nothing else. With no players coming back to Anaheim, the deal is more pawn than trade, which tells you everything you need to know about how badly ownership wanted to wash their hands of Hamilton.
A common refrain in wake of the news has been that Hamilton’s contract should immediately go down as one of the worst in franchise history. I can’t say that I disagree with the sentiment, but I would argue that his place on that list has much, much more to do with the Angels than it does Hamilton.
It seems pretty clear now that Arte Moreno was drawn in by Hamilton’s feel-good comeback story, and had no intention of ever confronting the reality of his addiction. Moreno and the front office should have known damn well he was a high-risk acquisition from the day they handed him a five-year contract — it’s not as though Hamilton was shy about his addiction being a constant struggle. For ownership to then go out of their way to pass his recent relapse off as some sort of unforgivable break in trust screams of ignorance at best, maliciousness at worst.
I’m not saying the Angels don’t have a reason to be disappointed in Hamilton. Of course they do. But the club’s reaction to the situation hasn’t been simply one of disappointment, no matter what they might say to reporters. Moreno’s need to not just jettison Hamilton from the organization as quickly as possible but also purge all of his merchandise from the team store well before any official transaction smacks of a spurned lover, not a concerned employer. Moreno’s public admission that he hasn’t spoken to Hamilton since the end of the 2014 season only reinforces the idea of some sort of personal betrayal.