major league baseball

MLB notes: Hamilton leaves Texas for Angels

Rangers sorry they lost out on slugger

December 14, 2012 

Josh Hamilton left the Texas Rangers on Thursday and agreed to a $125 million, five-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels.

Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels said the slugging free-agent outfielder had reached a deal with the American League West rival Angels. Two people familiar with the talks disclosed the amount and length of the contract.

Hamilton's $25 million average salary matches Philadelphia first baseman Ryan Howard for the second-highest in baseball, trailing only Alex Rodriguez's $27.5 million average with the Yankees.

Texas had hoped to re-sign the 2010 AL Most Valuable Player, who led the Rangers to consecutive World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011.

Daniels said he was disappointed "to some degree," especially since the Rangers never got a chance to match any offer during the process, as they had expected. Or at least get contacted before Hamilton agreed with another team.

Hamilton joins a team that spent big last off-season to add first baseman Albert Pujols for $240 million and pitcher C.J. Wilson — Hamilton's former Texas teammate — for $77.5 million. Yet the Angels disappointed and failed to make the playoffs.

"He's a tremendous talent and I think that they've shown they're going to be in on a lot of the best players out there," Daniels said of the Angels. "No sugarcoating it, we wanted the player back."

The agreement came days after the Los Angeles Dodgers added pitcher Zack Greinke, who said he chose the Dodgers over the Rangers.

Hamilton's addition to the Angels outfield means Mark Trumbo could be moved to third base or traded. Peter Bourjos and Vernon Wells also are among the outfielders competing for time unless a trade is made.

Manager Mike Scioscia will have an interesting decision to make on where in the batting order to slot in Pujols, AL Rookie of the Year Mike Trout and Hamilton, a five-time All-Star. He has a .260 career average at Angel Stadium with five home runs and 19 RBI in 150 at-bats.

The 31-year-old slugger was considered a risk by some teams because of his history of alcohol and substance abuse, which derailed his career before his surge with the Rangers over the past five seasons.

"Josh has done a lot for the organization, the organization has done a lot for Josh, a lot of things that aren't public and things of that nature," Daniels said.

Hamilton had a career-high 43 home runs with 128 RBI in 148 games last season, when the Rangers struggled down the stretch and lost the division to Oakland on the final day of the regular season.

Texas then lost in the winner-take-all wild-card game against Baltimore, and Hamilton was lustily booed by Rangers fans while going 0-for-4 — twice striking out on three pitches, including an inning-ending out in the eighth with a runner in scoring position when it was still a 3-1 game.

Hamilton has hit .304 with 161 homers in his six major- league seasons, the first with Cincinnati. In May against Baltimore, he became only the 16th major-leaguer with a four-homer game.

"Josh had indicated recently ... told us that he felt it might be time to move on, but that we were still talking," said Daniels, who wouldn't elaborate on the reasons. "We had additional conversations this week that I thought had moved it along in a positive direction, but apparently not."

Around the majors

Reds: Cincinnati and free-agent infielder Jack Hannahan finalized a $4 million, two-year contract, giving the team added depth at third base.

The 32-year old, reunited with former Cleveland teammate Shin-Soo Choo, hit .244 for the Indians last season with 16 doubles, four homers and 29 RBI in 105 games. His playing time was limited by a minor back injury.

"It's a chance to win," Hannahan said during a news conference at Great American Ball Park. "I'll do whatever they ask me to do. If that's to play every day, if that's to come off the bench late and hit or play defense, I'm ready for everything."

Hannahan gets $1 million in each of the next two seasons, and the Reds have a $4 million option for 2015 with a $2 million buyout.

He became a free agent when the Indians failed to offer him a 2013 contract by the Nov. 30 deadline. In six big- league seasons with Detroit, Oakland, Seattle and Cleveland, Hannahan has made 451 appearances at third base, 39 at first, nine at shortstop and one at second.

"I've bounced around positions throughout my career," he said.

Cincinnati has been busy this week, acquiring Choo and agreeing to a $15 million, two-year deal to keep outfielder Ryan Ludwick.

"Jack is known for being a great teammate and a clubhouse leader everywhere he's been," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "He's very good defensively and is capable of playing any infield position. We think he was the best utility player out there."

Todd Frazier, who hit .273 with 18 homers and 67 RBI as a rookie, is expected to be the starter at third. Cincinnati could have plenty of backup choices.

The Reds are awaiting a decision from Scott Rolen on whether he plans to play next year or retire. The 37-year-old hit .245 with eight homers and 39 RBI in 92 games during an injury-filled season and is expected to make a decision within two weeks.

"He's been so important to our success the last couple years, and an instrumental part of our team and the clubhouse," Jocketty said. "If he wants to play, we have to see if we can work something out, to his satisfaction and ours."

Giants: Andres Torres is returning to San Francisco, which gave the outfielder his first chance as a regular two years ago.

Torres agreed to a $2 million, one-year contract with the reigning World Series champions. The 34-year-old spent last season with the New York Mets following three years with the Giants. He hit .230 this year with three home runs, 35 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 132 games.

Red Sox: Two people familiar with the negotiations say Boston hase agreed to a $26.5 million, two-year contract with right-hander Ryan Dempster.

Dempster, 35, has a 124-124 record and a 4.33 ERA in a 15-year big league career, most of it with the Marlins and Cubs.

Also Thursday, the Red Sox introduced longtime Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino after finalizing a $39 million, three-year contract agreed to Dec. 4 at baseball's winter meetings.

Nicknamed the Flyin' Hawaiian, Victorino is a .275 hitter with 90 homers in seven full seasons.

Twins: Minnesota finalized a $10 million, two-year contract with right-hander Kevin Correia, filling a hole in a staff that was full of them last season, when its starters posted the second-worst ERA in the majors and 12 pitchers took at least five turns in the rotation.

General Manager Terry Ryan acknowledged Thursday there's no guarantee this move will strengthen the group. However. Ryan said he's still looking for candidates.

"Anybody who represented a starting pitcher, I think we talked to that agent, and that was quite a few," Ryan said. "They were coming out of our suite in a rapid-fire fashion."

The 32-year-old Correia was an All-Star in 2011 with Pittsburgh. He went 12-11 with a 4.21 ERA, 46 walks and only 89 strikeouts in 171 innings this year, losing his spot in the rotation when the Pirates traded for Wandy Rodriguez.

Correia's best season came in 2009, his first of two with San Diego, when he went 12-11 with a 3.91 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 198 innings, making 33 starts.

"He knows what he's doing on the mound. He's a guy we've seen quite a bit," Ryan said.

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