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Friday, April 24, 2015

Angels Could Expel Josh Hamilton In "Days", And How Arte Might Do It

Michael McCann at Sports Illustrated claims that Josh Hamilton could be gone "in [a] matter of days", and even his salary. The basis for this is language in the Uniform Player Contract:
Some of the relevant language can be found in the UPC’s Loyalty Clause:
3.(a) The Player agrees to perform his services hereunder diligently and faithfully, to keep himself in first-class physical condition and to obey the Club’s training rules, and pledges himself to the American public and to the Club to conform to high standards of personal conduct, fair play and good sportsmanship.
The Angels, it would seem, could persuasively argue that Hamilton’s relapse constitutes a failure to render services “diligently and faithfully,” as well as a failure to “keep himself in first-class condition and to obey the Club’s training rules.” A drug and alcohol relapse, moreover, could be viewed as evidence that Hamilton breached his contractual duty to “pledge himself to the American public and to the Club to confirm to the high standards of personal conduct ... and good sportsmanship.”
It has been occasionally tried in the past, most recently by the Padres with Lamarr Hoyt, but unsuccessfully; also, the Rockies ended up buying out 80% of Denny Neagle's contract when that team tried to invoke the "personal conduct" clause to sever ties.
None of this language, however, will authorize the Angels to terminate Hamilton’s contract. Through the grievance process, the Major League Baseball Players’ Association (MLBPA) has aggressively prevented teams from attempting to use the aforementioned language to terminate guaranteed player contracts. The MLBPA is most concerned with preventing the creation of a precedent whereby teams can readily convert guaranteed contracts into non-guaranteed contracts.
If anything, the Angels—rather than Hamilton—might have run afoul of the Program by issuing remarkably harsh and unsympathetic statements following the arbitrator’s award. For instance, a spokesman on behalf of Angels president John Carpino bluntly remarked, “It defies logic that Josh's reported behavior is not a violation of his drug program.” Note that the Program bars teams from issuing “public statements which undermine the integrity and/or credibility of the Program.” While Carpino’s statement and others like it likely will not lead to any consequences for the Angels, it’s a reminder that Hamilton’s conduct is not the only one at issue in this controversy.
 Well, we'll see, but I'm still not hopeful. For the record, I'm somewhat opposed to the tenor of Craig Calcaterra's observations a while back that Arte is being craven or greedy here:
But really, that’s what’s going on with the Hamilton stuff. People are disapproving of Hamilton’s acts, which are borne of addiction and not malice, yet they will nod at Moreno’s efforts to not pay Hamilton, which are borne out of greed and, maybe, a side of brains.
Is there room in this discussion for mentioning personal integrity and how Hamilton exhibits very little? I mean, I agree that Arte's also failing at it (per the functional gag order mentioned above), but it's hard to root for either side in this mess.

Update 3:43 PM: Bill Shaikin of the Times has an update on the situation:
The Angels are in talks with Josh Hamilton that could result in the troubled outfielder leaving the team within 72 hours, according to a person familiar with the matter who is not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto was in negotiations with Hamilton's representatives Friday.

Although the Angels had announced a plan to send Hamilton to their Arizona training facility as soon as this week to prepare for a comeback, Hamilton balked at the plan. It is believed Hamilton would like to play for a club close to his Texas home.
It's important to remember that the Angels have apparently operated in bad faith throughout this story, so we should be very careful not to read too much into the "Hamilton balked at the plan" part of this. Still, it's not entirely implausible.

Update 7:35 PM: Apparently it's a done deal:
 The Angels agreed Friday to trade Hamilton to the Texas Rangers, without getting a player in return, according to a person briefed on the deal but not authorized to discuss it. Instead, the Rangers will assume a very small portion of the $83 million left on Hamilton's contract, one that might well end up as the worst in Angels history.

Although the Angels had announced a plan to send Hamilton to their Arizona training facility as soon as this week to prepare for a comeback, Hamilton balked at the plan and told them he wanted to play in Texas. Hamilton, who has four children and filed for divorce in February, makes his off-season home in Texas.
Update 8:01 PM: Jeff Passan writes the Angels will eat $68M of the remaining $83M on Hamilton's contract. Yow.

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