Hamilton signing makes Angels division favorites


For the second straight offseason the Los Angeles Angels have signed the year’s most sought-after Free Agent. Yesterday’s signing of former Ranger Josh Hamilton to a five-year $125 million contract should shift the balance of power in the American League’s Western division. Hamilton joins last year’s big addition, Albert Pujols, to form one of the most lethal one-two punches in the game.

Josh Hamilton (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

Pujols has been the best hitter in baseball over the last twelve years… without question. In the last few seasons Josh Hamilton has been one of the few players to push Pujols for that title. The two sluggers are two of only eight players to accumulate more than 500 RBIs in the last five seasons.

Obviously Hamilton and Pujols are great hitters. Both can help the team with their glove as well. But another young teammate could be the best all-around player in the league. Mike Trout burst onto the scene in 2012 with a monster season. Trout finished second in the MVP voting despite spending most of April at the AAA level. These three guys give the Angels a lineup that will have opposition pitchers calling in sick.

Hamilton’s addition wasn’t the first for the Angels this winter, just the biggest. Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton have been brought in to solidify the starting rotation and Ryan Madson will join the bullpen.

Hanson was acquired from Atlanta in exchange for former closer Jordan Walden last month. Hanson has a career WHIP of 1.252 to go with his 45-32 record. The 26-year old righty had a down year in 2012 and the Angels are hoping he can bounce back. The Braves decided Hanson was expendable, probably due to the fact that his fastball velocity was down in 2012.

Blanton, who signed as a Free Agent earlier this week, returns to the A.L. West after a four year stint in the National League. Originally a first round pick by the A’s in ’02,  Blanton will pitch at the back of the Angels’ rotation.

Madson missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery in the spring. He may not be ready by opening day and it will be interesting to see how the Angels utilize him.

The Hamilton signing came as a surprise to many, including Jon Daniels. The Rangers General Manager said he thought the Rangers still had a good shot at signing Hamilton and talks had been progressing. Former Angels outfielder Torii Hunter was also surprised, as was evidenced by this tweet.

Angels owner Arturo Moreno must have thought he had to do something to one-up his crosstown rival. The Dodgers new ownership group has been spending money at a record pace since taking over the club.

The addition of Hamilton is not only the Angels’ gain, it’s also the Rangers’ loss. Texas also lost Mike Napoli to Free Agency and the Rangers have been unable to add any of the big name players they were targeting this winter. Reliever Joakim Soria, who is coming off Tommy John Surgery, has been their only significant acquisition.

The market keeps getting thinner for the Rangers. Another big name Free Agent found a home today when Anibal Sanchez signed a five-year $80 million deal with the Detroit Tigers. At this point it looks like Nolan Ryan is going to have to pull a rabbit out of his hat if he intends to keep up with the Angels.