Posted on August 23, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
In a move that was somewhat surprising but does appear to make sense, the Texas Rangers have released outfielder Josh Hamilton. The Rangers activated Hamilton from the 60-day DL on Tuesday and immediately placed him on unconditional waivers. It was primarily a procedural move by the Rangers, who made several roster moves Tuesday, including the activation of starting pitcher Derek Holland from the DL. Holland will start Tuesday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds. Meanwhile, the door is still open for Hamilton, who has not played all season, to return to Texas next season.
With the Rangers releasing Hamilton before September 1, the team can re-sign him to a minor league deal this winter and then keep him in the minors until May 15. This buys Texas more time to see how he recovers from the ACL reconstruction surgery he underwent earlier this year and determine whether or not he can still play at the major league level. Had the Rangers released him after September 1, they would not have been able to re-sign him until May 15, opening the door for him to sign elsewhere this winter.
“We plan to monitor Josh’s progress as he continues his rehab process and is medically cleared this winter,” said Texas GM Jon Daniels in a statement. “Given the rules in place, releasing him before the end of this month allows us to keep the door open to extending the relationship in the future.” Hamilton has expressed a desire to remain with the Rangers and says he would be open to a minor league deal that allows him to earn his way back to the big leagues.
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Hamilton has had his career and personal life marred with issues related to drug and alcohol addiction. However, he is a former batting champion and MVP, as well as a five-time all-star whose best years have been in Texas. After two years with the Los Angeles Angels in 2013 and 2014, Hamilton was traded back to the Rangers in April 2015 following both a knee injury and an admission that he relapsed on his drug addiction.
Regardless of whether Hamilton re-signs with the Rangers or ends up with another team, he is scheduled to make $28.4 million in 2017. The Angels will pay $26.4 of that, with the Rangers picking up the remaining $2 million. Of course, whether he’ll be able to play at the major league level remains up in the air, as the surgery he had in June was his third knee operation in a nine-month span. He played in just 89 games in 2014 and only 50 last season. His offensive production also dropped off considerably when he left the Rangers the first time following the 2012 season.
If Hamilton can return to full health and show he can still hit, the Rangers may very well have a spot for him at DH following the pre-mature retirement of Prince Fielder. There may also be room in the Texas outfield if Hamilton’s knee holds up, although two-thirds may be spoken for between Shin-Soo Choo, who’s had his own battles with injury this season, and Nomar Mazara. Of course, while it may be likely that Hamilton will return to the Rangers on a minor league deal, a return to the big leagues is far from certain for him.