May 8, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Texas Rangers left fielder Josh Hamilton (32) hits a two-run home run in the third inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE
By Bob Nightengale, USA Today Sports
The Los Angeles Angels and marquee free agent Josh Hamilton agreed on a five-year, $125 million contract Thursday, two high-ranking executives with direct knowledge of the talks told USA TODAY Sports.
The officials could not comment publicly because the Angels had not announced the deal.
The Texas Rangers were willing to give Hamilton a four-year contract for about $100 million, according to one of the executives, forcing the Angels to pay an extra year to Hamilton. He originally was seeking a seven-year, $175 million contract.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Hamilton did not give Texas the opportunity to match the Angels' offer.
"It was our full expectation that the phone call was going to be before he signed, and certainly not after," Daniels told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "Josh had indicated recently, last week, that he felt it might be time to move on, but we were still talking. We had had addition conversations this week that I thought had moved in a positive direction."
The Angels spent in excess of $300 million last winter with the signing of first baseman Albert Pujols and starter C.J. Wilson, another former Ranger.
Hamilton, 31, hit 43 homers with 128 RBI last season but faded down the stretch. He hit .368 with 21 homers and 57 RBI the first two months of the season and just .245 with 22 homers and 57 RBI in his last 380 at-bats, striking out a career-high 162 times.
Hamilton, who played five seasons for the Rangers, has been an enigma. He is a devoutly religious man but has fought substance abuse, missing more than two years of his career as a minor leaguer.
Rangers veterans said there were days Hamilton walked into the clubhouse and looked like he'd rather take a three-hour nap than play a game. They'd question his passion at times, wondering if he plays for his love of the game, or love of the diversion from the routine. They cringe when he publicly talks about his ailments, quite aware that he has missed 163 games the last five years.
Hamilton says he has been drug-free for seven years and two months. He has had two relapses with alcohol but no public incidents involving drugs.
When Rangers manager Ron Washington was asked at the winter meetings this month whether Hamilton would consider the merits of staying in a comfortable environment in Texas vs. departing, he said: "I hope that he'll take that into consideration. But I know it's going to come down to dollars.''
The move has the potential to shift the balance of power in the American League West. Hamilton helped the Rangers win the division -- and the pennant -- in 2010 and '11. Texas finished second to Oakland this past season, while the Angels were in third place, five games behind the A's.
Now the Angels boast a lineup that includes Hamilton and Pujols, perhaps the most potent lefty-righty duo in baseball, as well as AL Rookie of the Year Mike Trout.
"Wow," tweeted Trout.