The Angels have reasons why the don’t want Josh Hamilton back this season. It’s not all a money issue, though.
According to Deadspin, Hamilton, who reported to Major League Baseball that he had a relapse concerning his addiction, was ruled by an arbitrator not to have violated the terms of the collective bargaining agreement and cannot be punished by the league or the commissioner. Therefore, Hamilton will not be suspended for any length of time and will continue to receive the remainder of his five-year, $125 million contract he signed in 2012.
The Angels, quite obviously, are upset, but it’s not just the money at issue. If the Angels were to be able to suspend Hamilton, he would forfeit part or all of the $23 million he is due this year. If Hamilton was to retire outright, the Angels could save the $83 million left on his contract. The money would definitely help the Angels, who are on the cusp of having to pay the luxury tax (if the payroll exceeds the threshold, in this case, $189 million, the overage is charged a 17.5 percent penalty and paid to Major League Baseball).
So now, Hamilton sits and rehabilitates after having surgery February 4 on the acromioclavicular joint in his right shoulder. He could be out for up to 12 weeks.
USA Today is reporting that this latest issue is nothing new for Hamilton. From 2004 to 2006, while with the Tampa Bay Rays, Hamilton failed six drug tests. In 2009, and again in 2012 while with the Texas Rangers, Hamilton had alcohol-related issues. The arbitrator may have taken into account that Hamilton reported himself to Major League Baseball for this cocaine-related incident. Still, given Hamilton’s history, it makes little sense to decide that Hamilton did not relapse.
While the Angels are fuming about not being able to discipline Hamilton, one must see that it’s about more than the money. Hamilton could have checked himself into a rehabilitation center, which would have brought an investigation, and perhaps disciplinary action could have been levied. Hamilton could be getting the help he needs. Instead, Hamilton reports to Major League Baseball, perhaps as a cry for help. The independent arbitrator let Hamilton off the hook from further troubles with the league.
But he still needs further rehabilitation, and he won’t be getting it.
So, Hamilton will rehabilitate his shoulder and not his addiction. He will come back to play, even though his skills are noticeably diminishing. He will collect the money due him from his contract but will still have a huge monkey on his back. It will affect himself, his team, his fellow players, and especially his family.
Unfortunately for Hamilton, nothing changes.
[Image courtesy Dallas News]