For the second offseason in a row, the Angels pulled off a stunner by signing the biggest free agent bat on the market, all without so much as a whisper indicating they were in on the negotiations. The team agreed to a five-year, $125 million deal with outfielder Josh Hamilton, who spent the last five seasons with the Texas Rangers.
Rangers GM Jon Daniels spoke to the media on Thursday and said he was disappointed Hamilton and his agent didn’t give Texas a chance to match the Angels’ offer.
“Our full expectation was that the phone call was going to be before he signed, certainly not after and giving us an idea,” Daniels said Thursday, via MLB.com. “Josh had indicated recently, last week, he told us he felt it might be time to move on, but that we were still talking. I’m not going to get in to the reason, technically, why. I thought we had additional conversations this week that had moved it along in a positive direction. Apparently not.
“It’s business, and everybody has to make their own calls and he has a family to look out for,” Daniels said. “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 made it clear that he was not bothered that Hamilton accepted a five-year offer from a good club that was offering a lot of money. He understands that. He just wishes Hamilton had given them a last chance to negotiate.
“My disappointment stems more from the fact that there was a relationship over time. I thought we understood that we had a chance to at least have a conversation. This isn’t restricted free agency in the NFL where you get an offer sheet and a chance to match it. We never expected that. But we thought with the relationship that we’d have one more conversation before the fact and that didn’t happen. I wish him well. I wish him and his family well.”
If you piece together the information, it becomes obvious that Hamilton did not want to return to Texas.
Maybe he was dissatisfied by the way his negotiations with the Rangers were going. That’s probably why he jumped at a strong offer from a really good team. If Texas was low-balling Hamilton in negotiations, then he certainly did not owe them a last chance to match.
Hamilton’s agent certainly made that point clear.
“Reports in the media that we gave the Rangers the right to match offers were simply erroneous,” Hamilton’s agent, Mike Moye reportedly said in a statement.
Translation: Hey Texas, tough.
Hmm, I wonder why Hamilton might not have been enthusiastic about returning to Texas. Could it have been because Nolan Ryan publicly criticized him in July, and again in October? Or because their negotiations were drawn out and he clearly wasn’t the team’s top priority?
Athletes, even the ones making $125 million, have feelings, and they want to feel wanted. Angels owner Arte Moreno flying out to meet Hamilton in Texas conveyed how much the slugger was wanted in Anaheim. Sometimes that’s all athletes want to feel.
Texas did a great job withstanding the Angels’ strong offseason push last year. The Rangers finished four games ahead of the Angels and made the playoffs. The Rangers still have a great team, but the addition-by-subtraction move from Anaheim will make it that much tougher for Texas to remain ahead.