Los Angeles Angels: Josh Hamilton Contract Is Worst In MLB History

Josh Hamilton

Kelley L. Cox-USA TODAY Sports

It didn’t take very many games played in the 2013 season for the Los Angeles Angels to realized what is now utterly apparent: spending boat loads of money does not translate into wins. After all, the Angels have spent a staggering $137.3 million on their roster this season, yet they sit 16.5 games behind an Oakland Athletics team that cost a mere $62 million.

The one player that epitomizes this more than anyone else for the Angels is Josh Hamilton, the highest-paid player on either roster this season at $17.4 million, and who is aging extremely quickly to the point where he could quite possibly turn out to be the worst free-agent signing in MLB history.

Since signing a five-year $125 million contract with the Angels last December, things have been absolutely awful at the plate for Hamilton. His triple-slash at the plate during the 2013 season reads .246/.303/.433 with 21 home runs, 72 RBIs and three stolen bases.

This putrid line is by far the worst of any season in which Hamilton has played 100 or more games. What makes matters worse is that Hamilton has been seeing good pitches, if only because many pitchers have been too afraid to pitch to Howie Kendrick and Mike Trout, who bat in front of him.

The problem is that his bat speed has never been worse, and after striking out 153 times this season, it is clear no real adjustment has been made. Bat speed is not something that normally gets better with age, and it is hard to believe that Hamilton is going to be the one to break this trend at 32.

Meanwhile in the field, things have not been much better for Hamilton as he has lost a lot of the range which originally made him both a great outfielder and one of the best all-around players in baseball. Sabermetrics back up what the eye is showing as well, with Hamilton’s defensive WAR in 2013 being a career worst -1.4.

It is certain that age and past issues with drugs, which certainly played a part in tearing his body apart, have came back to haunt Hamilton’s defense and made it likely that he will only get worse as time goes on.

At the age of 32, it is very hard to see any way that Hamilton recovers to become the player that he once was, and the Angels will ultimately be the ones left on the hook for this. This is because they have committed the fifth-largest annual value of any contract in MLB history to a quickly aging player, and have actually agreed to pay him an astonishing $32 million during his age 35 and 36 seasons.

Watch out Angels fans, this one could get ugly.

Tyler Leli is a Washington Capitals writer for Rant Sports.  Follow him on Twitter,”Like” him on Facebook,or join his network on Google.

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  • Shueb Baafe

    Mike Trout is gonna look great in Dodgers blue

    • Tyler Leli

      There certainly is going to be a huge bidding war between the Angels, Dodgers, and Yankees when Trout becomes available. Could the Angels be hamstrung by Pujols’ and Hamiltons’ contracts? It certainly seems so. This could be one in many in a long line of Yankees and Dodgers bidding wars that appears to be on its way in future off seasons.

      • Farva55

        And the Cubs. They’re going to have a crap load of money available when they start implementing the changes to Wrigley etc. They’ve also got a monster farm system that I imagine will eb put to test on the trade market.

        • Tyler Leli

          Very true. It will be interesting to see how things pan out with Theo Epstein at the helm for the foreseeable future. Hopefully Chicago fans are patient enough to let Theo do things the way he wants.

      • Shueb Baafe

        By the time he’s a FA (2017) the hamilton, wilson, wells contracts will be gone so the LAA will have money to spend. I just don’t think he’ll want to come back there with a dumb owner, idiot GM, old roster, when he can go to LAD, NYY or PHI

  • Edmond Seltzer

    I wasn’t a supporter of the signing of Hamilton because I thought the Angels needed pitching but to say that he is on the decline after one season with a new team at age 32 is a gross over reaction. He will be better next season. Will he earn his paycheck? I haven’t seen one player do it yet that has signed a multi-million dollar deal.

    • Tyler Leli

      I honestly do not see a way back up for him. Once any athlete crosses over their age 30 season they are only going to be heading one place, and that is downhill. We have seen it with Pujols specifically in Los Angeles, and it is impossible to say that his body has been through more than Hamilton. Expecting anything over a .265 batting average for the final four years of Hamilton’s contract would be generous.