Marquee free agent Josh Hamilton, courted by the Mariners, signed Thursday with the Los Angeles Angels for a deal worth $125 million over five years. Hamilton, the 2010 American League MVP and the top free agent hitter available, had been expected to re-sign with the Texas Rangers after they lost out on pitcher Zach Greinke.
Hamilton’s jump to to the Angels, who spent big last off-season to add Albert Pujols ($240 million) and pitcher C.J. Wilson ($77.5 million), was confirmed by Texas GM Jon Daniels, who expressed disappointment over Hamilton’s defection.
“I thought we had additional conversations this week and that had moved it along in a positive direction,” Daniels said. “Apparently not. It’s business and everybody has to make their own calls, and he has a family to look out for. I get it.
“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. I’m a little disappointed in how it was handled, but he had a decision to make and he made it.”
Daniels expressed frustration over the fact that Hamilton did not give the Rangers an opportunity to match the Angels’ offer. Hamilton had stated numerous times the Rangers would receive that chance, but apparently not.
Hamilton, whose representatives discussed a deal with the Mariners at the winter meetings last week in Nashville, batted .304 in his big-league career, all but 90 games of it in Texas. He has provided big power in the middle of the Rangers’ lineup, helping the team to World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011.
Hamilton batted .285 with 43 homers and 128 RBIs in an inconsistent 2012 season that didn’t finish well. A vision problem caused him to miss five games near the end of the year, he struggled offensively and committed a costly error in the AL West-deciding loss to Oakland.
The Mariners, who are attempting to add a a big bat or two to their anemic offense (last in runs scored for four consecutive seasons) and are bringing in the fences at Safeco Field. The club also has interest in Nick Swisher, the best available remaining hitter in free agency who played last season for the Yankees. Swisher hit 20 or more home runs for eight consecutive seasons.
The Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox are also after Swisher, especially Cleveland after it lost former Mariners outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.