Does the Angels' Josh Hamilton Have Any Trade Value?
Since signing a five-year, $125 million deal before the 2013 season with the Los Angeles Angels, things have not gone smoothly for Josh Hamilton in Anaheim.
The former American League MVP played just 89 games last year, thanks to shoulder, chest and rib cage injuries. And when he was on the field, he wasn't terribly effective, hitting just .263/.331/.414, with 10 home runs and 44 RBI, all while making $17 million.
Things got so bad, Hamilton was booed when, in the divisional round of the playoffs, he went 0-for-13 in the Angels' three-game sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals. His 1.1 FanGraphs wins above replacement (fWAR) was the lowest since his injury-plagued 2009 season with Texas.
In fact, his two-year tenure with the Angels is a far cry from what he did as an All-Star for the Rangers.
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As you can see, Hamilton was a far different player in Texas than he has been so far in L.A., but of course some of that comes from playing half of his games in the hitter's paradise of Arlington. Hamilton's numbers have taken a severe dip since he signed with the Angels, seeing his average home runs per season drop from 28.4 in Texas to 15.5 in Los Angeles, and in two seasons with the Angels, he's been worth just 3.1 fWAR, as opposed to his average fWAR in Texas of 4.36 a season.
Yes, Hamilton played the 2013 and '14 seasons at 32 and 33 years old, so he is certainly no young pup. But bear in mind that Hamilton was out of baseball for much of his early 20s due to substance abuse problems and didn't become a full-time player until he was 26 years old. It would figure that his body would be a younger-acting 33 than most players his age. But the injury problems he has suffered throughout his career tells us otherwise.
Why are we talking about Josh Hamilton? MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez did a mailbag this week in which he was asked about Hamilton's future with the Angels. Gonzalez said he didn't think Hamilton would finish his career with L.A., and that the Angels have already had preliminary trade talks with other teams.
Which begs the question. Does Josh Hamilton have any trade value?
His nERD last year was 0.22 -- meaning a lineup full of Hamiltons would generate 0.22 runs a game more than a league average player -- 156th in the Majors.
In order for Hamilton to have any trade value, the Angels have to hope that he gets off to a hot start in 2015, and becomes a valuable trade chip at the deadline in July. It's hard to envision any team taking on a player who is due $25.4 million this year, and $32.4 million in 2016 and '17, without seeing some kind of rebound.
Unless the Angels are prepared to pick up a large portion of his salary, it's hard to see what trade value he has.
What everyone needs is for Hamilton to channel what another high-priced Los Angeles outfielder did last year. Matt Kemp bounced back from an injury-marred 2013, in which he played just 73 games and slugged just .395 with a paltry 6 homers and 33 RBI, to play in 150 games while slugging .506 and hitting 25 home runs and 89 RBI for the Dodgers last season. Those numbers were good enough to enable the Dodgers to get out from a large portion of his onerous contract by trading him to San Diego.
This is not to rag on Josh Hamilton. His story of perseverance is inspirational. And hey, maybe that 30-homer guy is still in there somewhere. But he's going to need to show a glimpse of it in order for Los Angeles to move on from a free agent contract they already probably already regret.