For the second consecutive offseason, the Los Angeles Angels are looking to make a big splash in the free agent market. In 2011, the Angels shocked the baseball world by signing future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols to a 10-year deal. Now in 2012, the Angels are reportedly in "serious negotiations" with free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton.
Though it may seem implausible for the Angels to add Hamilton after spending so much money last winter, the Angels did free up cash that they didn't really spend this year. While the Angels positioned themselves to re-sign Zack Greinke, they traded Ervin Santana, who earned $11.2 million in 2012, declined Dan Haren's option, and did not even make a qualifying offer to Torii Hunter. Haren earned $12.75 million in '12, while Hunter collected $18.5 million.
Los Angeles did pay $1 million dollars to Kansas City in the Santana trade, and did pay a $3 million dollar buyout to Haren. Still, the Angels shed nearly $40 million dollars in salary just between Santana, Haren and Hunter. Los Angeles did add small pieces this offseason in Joe Blanton and Sean Burnett, but neither pitcher received a substantial contract.
With an owner that is desperate to win while Pujols is still Pujols, it seems likely that the Angels will do whatever they can to win -- especially after emptying out their farm system for two months of Greinke.
Should the Angels sign Hamilton, they'd boast a lineup featuring Pujols, Hamilton and Mike Trout. Still, Los Angeles' other bats don't exactly strike fear into opposing pitching staffs.
Hamilton would be an excellent short-term addition for Los Angeles, but long-term, it simply would add to the disaster that is the Angels' future. The Angels owe Vernon Wells nearly $25 million per season through 2014, but the instant he comes off the books, Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver's contracts begin to escalate -- and they'll have to shell out big bucks to Trout.
From Texas' perspective, it wouldn't be the end of the world, but it sure would sting to see Hamilton play in Los Angeles. If Hamilton does leave, the Rangers could end up losing Mike Napoli, Ryan Dempster, Koji Uehara, Michael Young, Mark Lowe, Mike Adams and Hamilton in the same offseason.
Again, nothing is set in stone, but if Hamilton leaves, Jon Daniels will have to get creative to fill a lineup that has two major voids in it -- especially with Justin Upton off the block.