Josh Hamilton’s Contract Could Continue to Hurt the Los Angeles Angels


Oct 3, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels left fielder Josh Hamilton (32) reacts after grounding into a double play against the Kansas City Royals in the 10th inning in game two of the 2014 ALDS playoff baseball game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Hamilton’s contract is about to hurt the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim more than it already has. His time with the team isn’t the Barbie Dream Home they hoped he could give them. Instead, it’s been more like a shoebox that smells like feet masquerading as the gift they wanted.

After leaving the Texas Rangers following the 2012 season, Hamilton’s career has taken a nosedive. He hit more home runs in 2012 with the Rangers than he has in the 240 games he has played with the Angels over the last two seasons. Injuries limited him to 89 games in 2014 and shoulder surgery will cause him to miss opening day in 2015.

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The structure of Hamilton’s contract paid him less in the first two seasons. Hamilton made $17 million in both 2013 and 2014. Two rather unproductive seasons at this amount should have fans sweating over what has yet to come.

There are still three years left on Hamilton’s deal and almost $100 million owed to the veteran outfielder.

In 2015, Hamilton is set to make $25.4 million. This is the third highest contract in all of baseball. Only pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander will make more.

In 2016 and 2017, Hamilton’s salary climbs all the way up to $32.4 million each season. This total moves him ahead of Verlander and makes him the second richest player in the league.

At the time the Angels signed Hamilton, they probably didn’t expect him to earn every cent of the money he will make in the latter two seasons. The backloaded deal was meant more to reward him for what they expected he could give the team in his first two or three seasons while being able to afford better players around him. The way it turned out, they’re hoping for anything positive from him in the final three years.

Of course, Hamilton isn’t the only player on the roster in a situation like this. Albert Pujols has a contract that will pay him through 2020. The difference is Pujols has been far more productive. Although he’s not the player he was when he was with the St. Louis Cardinals, Pujols gives the Angels someone to make sure Mike Trout finishes the season with 100 runs scored. His batting average and on-base percentage are much lower than they used to be, but Pujols can still drive in 100 runs. Pujols is also averaging $24 million a year while Hamilton’s contract averages out to $25 million per season.

The Angels will get by fine in 2015 with their payroll. The trouble comes in 2016 when Hamilton’s contract goes up $7 million.

In 2016, the team will suddenly have four players making over $20 million with Trout not far behind at $16 million. Combined Hamilton, Pujols, Trout, C.J. Wilson, and Jered Weaver will make just under $115 million in 2016. Closer Huston Street will also be a free agent and if things continue to go the way the Angels would like, Garrett Richards’ arbitration total will start getting expensive.

Thankfully for the Angels they do have a lot of young talent to make up for the big money contracts they owe their stars and players who used to deserve that adjective.

Although baseball does not have a salary cap and only the luxury tax to worry about, teams do have budgets to work with. The Angels are fortunate to have one of the bigger wallets in baseball where if they’re smart it won’t be a big issue.

Next: Preseason All-AL East Team

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