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Hamilton jumps to Angels for $125M over 5 years


Hamilton jumps to Angels for $125M over 5 years

For the second straight year, the biggest bat on the free-agent market is headed to the high-rolling Angels.

Josh Hamilton agreed to a $125 million, five-year contract with Los Angeles on Thursday, leaving the AL West rival Texas Rangers and becoming the latest high-profile star to migrate to Southern California.

Last winter, the Angels lured slugger Albert Pujols with a $240 million deal and pitcher C.J. Wilson - who was Hamilton's teammate in Texas - for $77.5 million. Still, the club missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season.

``He's a tremendous talent and I think that they've shown they're going to be in on a lot of the best players out there,'' Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said about Hamilton. ``No sugarcoating it, we wanted the player back. And he signed with the Angels. They're better.''

In other news, the Boston Red Sox agreed with Ryan Dempster on a two-year deal worth $26.5 million, while the New York Yankees and Ichiro Suzuki closed in on a contract that would guarantee him between $12 million and $13 million.

Players around the majors who finalized deals included Shane Victorino (Red Sox), Kevin Correia (Twins), Jack Hannahan (Reds), Andres Torres (Giants) and Nate McLouth (Orioles).

But it was Hamilton's decision that made headlines.

Daniels said the 2010 AL MVP had reached a deal with the Angels, another coup for owner Arte Moreno and GM Jerry Dipoto. Two people familiar with the talks disclosed the amount and length of the contract, speaking on condition of anonymity because the agreement was not yet final.

``It's a great day to be an Angel/Angel fan!'' Wilson said on his Twitter account.

Los Angeles had spent most of the offseason transforming its pitching staff with the additions of starters Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton along with relievers Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett.

Now, Hamilton joins a power-packed lineup in Anaheim that includes Pujols, Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales.

The 31-year-old slugger had a career-high 43 home runs with 128 RBIs in 148 games last season, when the wild-card Rangers slipped up down the stretch and lost the division title to Oakland on the final day of the regular season.

Hamilton was considered a risk by some teams because of his history of alcohol and substance abuse, which derailed his career before his surge with Texas over the past five seasons.

``Josh has done a lot for the organization, the organization has done a lot for Josh, a lot of things that aren't public and things of that nature,'' Daniels said. ``I'm a little disappointed how it was handled, but he had a decision to make and he made it.''

Speaking after a Rangers holiday luncheon, Daniels said he had just been informed of the decision by Hamilton's agent, Michael Moye.

Daniels said he was disappointed ``to some degree,'' especially since the Rangers never got a chance to match any offer during the process, as they had expected. Or at least to be contacted before Hamilton chose another team.

``I never expected that he was going to tell us to the dollar what they had, and a chance to offer it. Our full expectation, the phone call was going to be before he signed, and certainly not after,'' Daniels said. ``Everybody's got to make their own calls.''

While he wouldn't get into specifics, Daniels said his understanding is the deal with the Angels ``is certainly more guaranteed money.''

Hamilton's $25 million average salary matches Philadelphia first baseman Ryan Howard for the second-highest in baseball, trailing only Alex Rodriguez's $27.5 million average with the Yankees.

The agreement came days after the Los Angeles Dodgers added pitchers Zack Greinke and Ryu Hyun-jin, boosting their payroll over $200 million. Greinke, another offseason target, said he chose the Dodgers over the Rangers.

Elsewhere, the Yankees and Suzuki were likely to settle on a two-year deal, according to a person familiar with the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity because talks were ongoing.

Acquired from Seattle on July 23, the 39-year-old Suzuki revived his career in New York. A 10-time All-Star, he hit .322 with five homers, 27 RBIs and 14 steals in 67 games for the Yankees to help them win the AL East.

New York also planned to finalize a $12 million, one-year contract Friday with Kevin Youkilis.

The Red Sox landed a reliable starter in Dempster, two people familiar with the negotiations said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the agreement was pending a physical.

The right-hander was a combined 12-8 with a 3.38 ERA for the Cubs and Rangers this year. He has thrown more than 200 innings in four of the past five seasons.

Boston held a news conference to introduce Victorino, the speedy outfielder who agreed to a $39 million, three-year contract at the winter meetings last week. But general manager Ben Cherington said he had nothing to announce on Mike Napoli, the catcher-first baseman who also agreed to a $39 million, three-year deal during the winter meetings, pending a physical. That contract has yet to be announced.

``Our hope is that we'll be able to resolve the issues,'' Cherington said. ``We're working on it.''

Minnesota filled another hole on a staff that was full of them last season, completing a $10 million, two-year contract with Correia. The 32-year-old righty, an All-Star in 2011, went 12-11 with a 4.21 ERA for Pittsburgh last season but lost his spot in the rotation when the Pirates traded for Wandy Rodriguez.

``He knows what he's doing on the mound. He's a guy we've seen quite a bit,'' Twins GM Terry Ryan said. ``When you start cracking his numbers, they're very respectable.''

Cincinnati completed a $4 million, two-year contract with free agent Jack Hannahan, giving the NL Central champions added depth at third base.

Torres returned to the Giants, who gave him his first chance as a regular two years ago. The outfielder signed a $2 million, one-year contract with the reigning World Series champions after helping them to the 2010 title. He was traded to the Mets before last season.

``Great to have him back!'' manager Bruce Bochy wrote in a text message. ``He gives us that much more versatility and character in the clubhouse. Everybody loves Andres as a teammate.''

San Francisco also reached a minor league deal with right-hander Chad Gaudin, and Baltimore finalized a $2 million, one-year contract with McLouth.


AP Sports Writers Ronald Blum, Dave Campbell, Jimmy Golen and Beth Harris and AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report.

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Orioles' Zach Britton named AL's top reliever in Sporting News poll

Orioles' Zach Britton named AL's top reliever in Sporting News poll

Orioles closer Zach Britton, who converted on all 47 of his save opportunities in 2016 was named to The Sporting News’ American League All-Star team. 

The team was voted on by 29 American League executives before the postseason began.

Britton, a leading contender for the American League Cy Young Award, had an 0.54 ERA and allowed just one home run in 67 innings while giving up just over five hits per nine innings. 

No other Oriole was named a starter on the team though Matt Wieters and Mark Trumbo received votes at catcher and outfielder. Manny Machado received votes for both shortstop and third base.

Britton is the second Oriole in as many days to be honored. Trumbo was named the AL comeback player of the year on Tuesday. He was the third Oriole to win the award. Boog Powell (1966) and Rick Sutcliffe (1992) were the others.

Interestingly, Buck Showalter failed to get any votes from his fellow managers in the AL Manager of the Year voting, which was won by Cleveland’s Terry Francona. 

No Oriole rookie was among the top five finishers for the AL Rookie of the Year, which like the comeback player is voted on by American League players.  

MORE ORIOLES: The case for re-signing Chris Tillman

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The Orioles need to sign Chris Tillman to an extension

The Orioles need to sign Chris Tillman to an extension

Two of the most irritating catchphrases around Baltimore sports are “Joe Flacco isn’t an elite quarterback” and “Chris Tillman isn’t an ace.” 

I’m not here to opine on Flacco and the Ravens’ difficulties, but I am here to defend Tillman. 

Over the last five seasons, Tillman is 65-33, a winning percentage of .663. 

How good is that? Jim Palmer’s lifetime winning percentage was .638, and in his 10 years with the Orioles, Mike Mussina’s was .645.

Tillman, who had an erratic first three seasons with the Orioles, still has a lifetime .600 percentage, in his time here. That trails only Mussina, Palmer, Mike Cuellar and Dave McNally among pitchers with at least as many wins as Tillman. 

He’s climbing up on the Orioles’ all-time lists. With 72 wins, Tillman is 13th in franchise history, just one behind the immortal Sidney Ponson. With a decent season, Tillman will pass Ponson, Scott Erickson and Mike Boddicker, who each have 79 wins as an Oriole. 

To be sure, Tillman’s ERA is much higher than many of those ahead of him, but at 4.13, it’s still far better than Ponson, Erickson and Dennis Martinez. 

It’s not far off two other Orioles greats, Scott McGregor (3.99) and Mike Flanagan (3.89). 

Tillman isn’t an Oriole great, but he’s at least an Oriole very good. 

As for the ace talk, Tillman won 16 games, tying him with Justin Verlander and Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma for sixth place. Only Rick Porcello (22), J.A. Happ (21), Corey Kluber (18), David Price and Chris Sale (17) had more. 

All those pitchers ahead of Tillman on the win list had lower ERAs except for Price, as did Verlander, Aaron Sanchez, who led the American League in ERA (3.00) and Masahiro Tanaka. 
No one will argue that Tillman is in the class of Verlander, Kluber or for this year, Porcello, but had he not been shut down for three weeks late in the season, he could have gotten some votes for the Cy Young Award. 

Tillman completed at least six innings in 17 of his 30 starts, and in his third straight Opening Day start, left after two perfect innings only because of a lengthy rain delay. 

By the Orioles’ 68th game, Tillman had won his 10th game and was a sparkling 10-1 with a 3.11 ERA and seemingly on his way for Cy Young and All-Star Game consideration. 

But instead of becoming the Orioles’ first 20-game winner since Boddicker in 1984, Tillman had two bad starts where he allowed 10 runs in 9 2/3 innings, and was passed over for the All-Star Game. 

Tillman was a late add for the 2013 game, but didn’t pitch. 

Following those starts, Tillman pitched four brilliant games, throwing seven innings each time and allowing a total of four runs and just 14 hits. 

While that 14-2 record looked great on July 21, it was obvious his shoulder was bothering him and won just two of his final nine starts. 

Overall, a 16-6 record and 3.77 ERA wasn’t bad and earned him the start in the wild-card game. 

Tillman’s WAR of 4.1 was the second highest of his career, behind only the 4.4 of 2013, the other time he won 16 games. 

Always available at his locker after a game, win or lose, Tillman is admired for never making excuses for his own performance or blaming the offensive shortcomings of his teammates. 

A year from now, Tillman will be a free agent, and another year like this one, and he’ll be a highly sought after one, probably out of the Orioles’ price range.

At the Oct. 6 season-ending press conference, Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette remarked that he had made two runs at signing Tillman to an extension and that he would try again this offseason. 

It will be difficult because the Orioles haven’t signed one of their own pitchers to a five-year contract since Erickson’s five-year $32 extension in 1998.

Tillman is the best Orioles starter since Mussina, who the Orioles famously lost to the New York Yankees. (Mussina signed a six-year, $88.5 million deal in 2000). 

It would be in the Orioles’ best interest if they locked Tillman up for the long term because it’s likely a year from now his price will be much higher than it is now. 

MORE ORIOLES: Orioles release spring training schedule