Start talking World Series in December, and you’re bound to end up disappointed.
This is precisely what has befallen the Los Angeles Angels, whose signings of superstar free agents Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton in successive Decembers have saddled the team with a whopping $365 million in obligations to the two players over the next decade (not to mention the ludicrous perks in Pujols’ contract; seriously, read this).
What has the team gotten for all that money? Here are the numbers for four Angels this season, take a wild guess at which numbers belong to the highest-paid players:
Player A: .324 BA, .474 Slugging, 8 HRs, 33 RBIs
Player B: .263 BA, .502 Slugging, 15 HRs, 44 RBIs
Player C: .249 BA, .438 Slugging, 11 HRs, 40 RBIs
Player D: .217 BA, .390 Slugging, 9 HRs, 21 RBIs
Give up? Players C and D are Pujols and Hamilton (Hamilton’s batting average ranks last on the team, by the way). Players A and B are Howie Kendrick and Mark Trumbo, respectively, who are making a combined $8.29 million this year, or less than what Pujols will be paid by the Angels in the first 10 years after his retirement.
I’ll leave you to decide if the Halos are getting a good return on their investment.
The worst part is that the Angels have virtually no way of relieving themselves of these monstrous obligations. The Boston Red Sox faced a similar situation last season, only to luck out and have the Los Angeles Dodgers take Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett off of their hands.
Ask Dodger fans how that one’s worked out. Something tells me MLB franchises will be a little more circumspect before offering such a gift to the Angels. If a trade is off the table, that only leaves waivers and contract termination as potential outs for the Halos. Waivers seem just as unlikely as a trade, since no team would take on either of the contracts as they currently stand.
Contract termination without a trade or waivers would be an unprecedented move. In Hamilton’s case, he would probably have to suffer another, very public alcohol or cocaine relapse for such a step to be even considered, though such an episode would probably be one of the few that would qualify under the termination clause of his contract. No decent human being should hope for a relapse, that much goes without saying.
The only other possibility that comes to mind would be if Pujols or Hamilton were named as steroid users in the recent Biogenisis settlement. Even this scenario would not necessarily result in a contract termination should the Players Association put up a strong fight, but again, it would be the only way for the Halos to take this drastic measure.
There is, of course, a third option: both Pujols and Hamilton rediscover their considerable talents and live up to their past performances.
I can’t say I’m holding my breath, though.
Tony Baker is a Los Angeles Angels blogger for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter at @tonloc_baker.