The Los Angeles Angels love playing the mystery team that swoops in steals the big-name free agent at the end. A year ago, they did it with Albert Pujols. Now they have done the same thing with Josh Hamilton.
Hamilton has reportedly agreed to a 5-year contract with the Angels, leaving on the Mariners on the outside looking in.
We have yet to hear how much the dollar figure are for, but I'm guessing it's a least $130 million. I was a little off ...
The fifth year had to be the kicker. At the winter meetings, Hamilton didn't have an offer over four years. Teams were skeptical of his injury issues and his downward and curious slide at the end of this past season.
The Mariners were legitimately interested, but the question is whether Hamilton was legitimately interested in the Mariners?
Hamilton had promised the Rangers that they would have a chance to match any offer, and it appears he did not do that for the Rangers.
Obviously, some fans are very upset. For the Mariners to have gotten Hamilton, they probably would have had to give him a 6-year deal at least to get him here. And even then, there is no guarantee he comes to Seattle.
Here's a guess at the Angels lineup ...
- Mike Trout CF
- Alberto Callaspo 3B
- Albert Pujols 1B
- Josh Hamilton RF
- Mark Trumbo LF
- Howie Kendrick 2B
- Kendrys Morales DH
- Chris Iannetta C
- Erick Aybar SS
Wow, I think Blake Beavan just threw up in his mouth a little.
So where do the Mariners go from here?
They can push for Nick Swisher ... but he can really pump up his asking price to the Mariners. His market value is up considerably.
They can look at Michael Bourn ... which I"m not exactly thrilled by.
They can try and trade for a bat .... but I'm not sure that there is much out there.
They can trade Steven Pryor and maybe a low prospect for Mike Morse ... something I think they will do.
They can look at the lesser group of free agent hitters like Cody Ross and such ... not exactly awe inspiring.
None of it is as sexy as signing Hamilton. But I'm at the point where I think signing Hamilton to a monster deal (6-year, 170 million) might have set the organization back in the long run. It may have led to some success early in the deal, but he's 32 and beat up. Those last years you could have been upwards of $28 million a year for part-time player. Not to mention it would have greatly hampered the chances of re-signing Felix Hernandez.
The inevitable reaction from fans is anger and frustration. The whole idea of a commitment to winning from the Mariners ownership is being questioned. I can understand that. The frustration isn't from not signing Hamilton. It's from the losing and the perceived idea of ownership being out only to earn money.
If you are the Mariners ownership group, you better understand that fans are skeptical. It's not just the losing. It's the other stuff too ... the petulance with the arena situation, keeping Figgins around when he was clearly done, raising of season tickets and just a general disconnect with the average fan.
To be fair, none of us know the true ambitions of the ownership group. Obviously, the trimming of payroll isn't good. But even if the payroll is back up to $120 million ,it doesn't make them competitive with the Angels and Rangers. They are simply operating on different levels.
One thing to remember ... the Angels will pay Pujols $16 million this season, Vernon Wells $21 million this season and if Hamilton's contract is backloaded like most are, they will pay him around $18 million this year. That's $55 million this season for those three players .... the Oakland A's payroll in 2012 was $52 million. Refresh my memory. Who won the AL West last season?
While many people are quick to react and complain, I'm choosing to wait till the offseason is over with before I choose to doom it as a success or a failure.