Free agent Josh Hamilton is a free agent no more.
The former Texas Rangers outfielder was unveiled to the world Saturday as a new member of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The deal – reported to be worth $125 million over five years – sees the five-time All-Star join forces with last year’s mega signing, Albert Pujols, and AL Rookie of the Year, Mike Trout.
News of Hamilton’s defection from Texas to its divisional rival has seen Angels odds shorten considerably on the MLB Futures.
The Angels were 12/1 to win the 2013 World Series ahead of the announcement. Those numbers have shortened to 15/2 following Hamilton’s arrival.
The Angels are now considered favorites to win the World Series.
The big-name deal came after Texas failed to lock up Hamilton’s signature. Reports surfaced after news broke that the signing was a surprise to the Rangers’ organization, who believed they would be given an opportunity to match any offers placed on the table.
Hamilton spent five years in Arlington, after being traded from Cincinnati in 2008. He made the All-Star team each of those five seasons, leading Texas to two straight World Series appearances (2010, 2011). He was awarded the ALCS MVP award in 2010, the same year he took the AL MVP award for the regular season.
Hamilton’s time in Texas was marred by off-field problems. Hamilton admitted to being an alcohol and drug addict before arriving in Major League Baseball and worked hard to sober himself up. Over the past three years, a number of incidents have been reported in which he consumed alcohol again. Each incident was accompanied by a public apology.
Two months into this past season, Hamilton also confessed to having struggled trying to kick an addiction to chewing tobacco. Having given up tobacco ahead of spring training, he suffered dizziness and other side effects associated with addiction withdrawal, which affected his performances for part of the season.
Aware of the ongoing situation, Hamilton’s teammates were known to assist the outfielder, including substituting champagne for ginger ale when the side won its two American League pennants.
This comradery and openness between player and team led many to think Texas was the safest place for Hamilton to be, and the safest bet as to where he would play come 2013.
But reportedly unhappy with the length of time the Rangers were taking to resign him, Hamilton and his agent, Mike Moye, set about finding a new home.
Reports suggest that Hamilton will earn $25 million per season with the Angel, a figure in line with what Ryan Howard earns in Philadelphia and just shy of Alex Rodriguez’s $27.5 million annual salary in the Bronx. Even new teammate Pujols, who signed a $210 million contract last season, will not earn that sort of cash.
The Angels’ organization is undoubtedly taking a risk on Hamilton, but with an almost-‘Murderer’s Row’ type of lineup, it’s easy to see why the front office is willing to take such a risk.
In response to the signing, Bovada has put a number of prop bets on the board.
The over/under on Angels’ wins has been set at 93½.
The over/under on Hamilton’s batting average has been set at .295.
The over/under on the number of home runs hit by Hamilton in 2013 is 33½.
The over/under on the number of RBIs amassed by Hamilton is 110½.
The bookmaker is also offering 5/1 odds that Hamilton will be suspended by either the Angels’ organization or the league during the 2013 season for substance abuse.
Finally, odds of 18/1 are being given that the Angels will meet the free-spending Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.
The Dodgers have already acquired LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu, RHP Zack Greinke and 2B Skip Schumaker to complement those players that arrived in the Adrian Gonzalez mega-trade.
News of Hamilton’s signing with the Angels relegated the Yankees’ signing of long-time nemesis Kevin Youkilis off the back pages.
The third baseman has reportedly signed a one-year deal worth $12 million to wear the pinstripes next year.
Youkilis spent 2012 with the Chicago White Sox.