Philadelphia, PA – You didn't think Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno was going to let the crosstown Dodgers steal all the headlines this offseason did you?
The Angels shocked the baseball world last December when they emerged as the mystery team in the Albert Pujols sweepstakes. Well, Moreno and the Angels have done it again, swooping in out of nowhere to land the best bat on the market this year.
On Thursday, the Angels signed former American League MVP Josh Hamilton to a five-year deal worth a reported $125 million.
As AL Rookie of the Year Mike Trout tweeted, "wow".
I have said for awhile now that the Angels were waiting in the wings for something. It's been Moreno's style since being shutout completely in the free agent market of 2010 that saw him lose out on Carl Crawford and Cliff Lee among others.
But, all along I thought the player they were being stealth on was Greinke. Hamilton never even crossed my mind.
Now he joins a lineup that already has the best young player in the game in Trout, as well as the three-time NL MVP Pujols. With all due respect to Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera, the Angels now possess the best 3-4 combo in the game.
Of course, though, there is more to Hamilton than just what happens on the field. Otherwise, we'd be talking about a contract probably double what Hamilton received on Thursday.
Everyone knows the story. Selected first overall by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1999, Hamilton was injured early in his minor league career and fell into a pattern of drug abuse shortly thereafter that ultimately got him suspended from the game.
Upon reinstatement, Tampa eventually cut ties with the outfielder in 2006, leaving him exposed to the Rule 5 Draft, where he was selected by the Chicago Cubs before being moved to the Cincinnati Reds later in the day.
Hamilton shined for the Reds in 2007, but was dealt to the Rangers the following winter. Hamilton's comeback really took off in Arlington, as he became an All-Star in 2008, stealing the show with a breathtaking performance in the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium that year.
The 31-year-old slugger has had a problem staying on the field for most of his career, but put it all together in 2010 and won an MVP award, as he hit a career-high .359 with 32 home runs and 100 RBI. This past year he remained relatively healthy and swatted a career-best 43 home runs with 128 RBI.
All along Texas thought it would have a chance to match any offer for Hamilton, but apparently that never happened, as Texas general manager Jon Daniels was informed of the move by a telephone call from Hamilton's representatives.
Losing Hamilton is bad enough, but losing him to a division rival is even worse, especially when that same team signed your best pitcher in C.J. Wilson just last offseason.
So, what's next for the Angels?
With Hamilton, Trout, Peter Bourjos, Mark Trumbo and Vernon Wells that seems like a few outfielders too many by my count. Rumors are already starting to fly that the Halos could now make a pitch to the New York Mets for reigning NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.
Perhaps a Bourjos package with righty Garret Richards gets that done?
It's been a ho-hum offseason so far, but it finally looks as if the Hot Stove is starting to get cranked up.
And oh yea, pitchers and catchers report in less than two months.