The trade that will send Josh Hamilton back to the Texas Rangers is a done deal, awaiting only some reworking of the language in the proposal that has been the biggest story in baseball the past two days.
The players association and commissioner’s office didn’t balk at the deal. According to a source, those parties were kept abreast of the negotiations and were presented with the basic parameters of a deal that will see the Rangers surrender no players and pay Hamilton only $2 million to $3 million a season of a contract that has three years and $83 million left on it.
The Rangers have deemed Hamilton ready to start a rehab assignment following a Feb. 3 operation on his right shoulder — and following his confession to a relapse with cocaine later in February.
Sources said that Hamilton could be at extended spring training in Surprise, Ariz., by Tuesday.
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He would play for Triple A Round Rock before joining the Rangers as an active player.
This is happening. The question is, what will happen?
“He’s a player that can help everybody right now,” shortstop Elvis Andrus said. “He was here before. We know him. When he’s at his best, we know everything he can do on the field. As long as he’s ready to play, I’m good to go.”
Hamilton, who turns 34 on May 21, is coming off an injury-plagued season in which he played in only 89 games, played only once after Sept. 4 and went 0 for 13 as the Los Angeles Angels lost three straight to the Kansas City Royals in the American League Division Series.
The 2010 AL MVP and five-time All-Star batted only .255 with 31 homers and 123 RBIs in 240 games for the Angels, who lured him away from the Rangers in December 2012 with a five-year, $125 million contract.
There is $83 million left on the deal. A source said that the Rangers will pick up less than 10 percent of that, with the Angels eating the majority of it and Hamilton forfeiting some that will be mostly covered by not having to pay state income taxes in Texas.
The Rangers see the acquisition as a no-risk move financially. If Hamilton can stay healthy and avoid any relapses, the club and Rangers players believe that he can be a productive player in a lineup badly in need of production.
“That year that he won the MVP, it was amazing,” Andrus said. “It was unreal how good he was.”
If Hamilton isn’t productive, a fan base that has given a lukewarm response to the trade might never embrace him. His relationship with the fans deteriorated after a dismal September in 2012 as the Rangers blew a third straight division title.
He made matters worse after signing with the Angels, saying the Rangers hadn’t made him feel wanted during his first stab at free agency. Later, in response to his fallout with the fans, he said that the Metroplex isn’t a baseball town.
The players who were his teammates in 2012 remember that he had a terrible month during a season in which he hit 43 homers with 128 RBIs.
“He had a terrific year,” Andrus said. “Just because he had one bad month doesn’t make him a bad player or less wholesome.”
The Rangers should find out within a few weeks what kind of player and teammate Hamilton will be. The trade with the Angels is all but done.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760