Josh Hamilton returns to Texas after Angels debacle

Texas Rangers courtesy photo

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – Josh Hamilton is back with the Texas Rangers.

After two troubled years with the Los Angeles Angels and less than halfway through a $125 million, five-year contract, Hamilton was traded to AL West rival Texas on Monday for a player to be named or cash.

“I had a lot of good memories here,” Hamilton said during a news conference. “I’m back here. I’m back home. I’m going to give everything I’ve got.”

On the 15-day disabled list while recovering from offseason right shoulder surgery, Hamilton took a physical and will report Tuesday to the Rangers’ spring training complex in Surprise, Arizona. Daniels said the Rangers expect he will be activated during the second half of May.

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“At the end of the day this is a pretty easy decision for us,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said, calling Hamilton “a player we feel can be productive and help us win games.”

Hamilton returns to the team he helped lead to consecutive World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011. Hamilton was the 2010 AL MVP and an All-Star each of his five seasons with Texas (2008-12).

“It didn’t work out on the field. It didn’t work out off the field,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said during a conference call. “From beginning to end, this is not what we planned. This is not the way we envisioned any of this playing out from the moment we signed Josh … At the end of the day, this is what we felt this was best for the team, that we were able to clear the air, that we were able to move forward with the group of 25 that we have on the field today.”

Los Angeles is expected to pay most of the remaining $80.2 million Hamilton was owed: $20,234,973 this year and $30 million in each of the final two seasons. As part of the trade, Hamilton agreed to give up some of the money he was due under the contract, a person familiar with the trade said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because that was not announced.

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Hamilton moves from California, which has a 13.3 percent top income tax rate, to Texas, which does not have a state income tax.

The deal, which had to be approved by Major League Baseball and the players’ association, came more than two weeks after Angels owner Arte Moreno strongly indicated that Hamilton would never play again for Los Angeles.

Hamilton never reported to the Angels this season after surgery in early February and a self-reported relapse into alcohol and cocaine use. Arbitrator Roberta Golick ruled MLB could not discipline Hamilton.

“Josh, from the moment he arrived here, there’s been turbulence,” DiPoto said. “If I could put my finger on why Josh had a tough time here, we may have been able to help him solve those issues.”

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In his first stint with Texas, Hamilton hit .305 with 152 homers and 506 RBIs in 647 games. He led the majors with a .359 batting average in 2010, the season he was also the MVP of the AL Championship Series.

But he never came close to duplicating that during his time with the Angels.

In 220 games the past two seasons in Los Angeles, Hamilton had 31 homers and 123 RBIs. He was limited to 89 games because of injuries last season, which ended with him going hitless in 13 at-bats as the Angels were swept in three games by Kansas City in the AL Division Series.

Hamilton, who turns 34 on May 21, always felt comfortable with the Rangers, a team experienced in dealing with his unique situation.

Hamilton’s major league debut came with Cincinnati when he had 19 homers and 47 RBIs in 2007, before being traded to Texas. That was eight years after he was the No. 1 overall pick by Tampa Bay and before falling into cocaine and alcohol addictions in the minors that derailed his career.

He acknowledged a relapse in early 2009 after he was photographed getting drunk in a bar in Arizona. He held a news conference in 2012 to apologize for another night of drinking.

AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.