April 24, 2015

Josh Hamilton, Texas Ranger?

Josh Hamilton
According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, with Bill Baer at Hardball Talk rounding up several additional links, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Downey, and Owner Cluelessness are prepared to make a "dump" trade of — no stereotyping words — outfielder Josh Hamilton to the Texas Rangers, the city where he made good.

And, it's reportedly a done deal, with the Angels eating all but $15M of his salary.

Several questions, issues, and thoughts.

1. On that "eating salary," per more information, on USA Today and a Hardball Talk commenter, reportedly this is NOT adding up to $68M + $15M. The Angels are allegedly saying that because Texas has no state income tax, Hamilton:
(I)s also expected to help offset the remaining $15 million, according to a person involved with the talks.
I am sure this is not the first trade of a player from a state with income tax to a state with none, or vice versa, with one party eating contract. On the vice versa, the stRangers ate some of A-Rod's contract, but the Yankees weren't asked to "help Alex out" because he would now be paying state income tax.

To me, this sounds like a violation of the collective bargaining agreement between owners and the players union.

And, it's a bogus argument anyway. Twenty-one states have laws on their books to tax the salaries of visiting athletes in road games, meaning the "tax-free state" argument is bullshit. There's more here on how accountants who specialize in working for athletes have to deal with this. Wikipedia even has a jock tax page.

But, per the latest update on the situation, with Hamilton getting an opt-out after just 2 years (like he's gonna use that), Hamilton is eating $6 million of contract money.

Oh, and does anybody think Josh Hamilton is either:

1. Dumb enough to exercise that opt-out and leave $30M on the table (or $28M, after 1/3 of that $6M "no state income tax" is deducted), or
2. Going to have a banner year in 2015 or 2016 making it worth his while to opt out?

If the MLBPA thinks that's worth eating $6M, the players ought to fire Tony Clark and see if they can get Donald Fehr back, or somebody.

A lot of fans, I'll bet, don't get that the money per se isn't the issue; it's a player voluntarily undercutting a signed contract by renegotiation. See Section 2 immediately below.

2. Grant says originally said a buyout of Hamilton's contract is was being mentioned, with the Rangers then signing Hamilton for the veteran minimum, rather than Angels' owner Arte Moreno eating a chunk of the current contract. Unless the buyout is for 100 percent of what's left on the contract, the Players' Association and current executive director Tony Clark have to get involved, don't they?

Do they have that power? Well, if the attempted trade of Alex Rodriguez by the Rangers to the Boston Red Sox is an indicator, the answer is yes:
And the MLBPA nixed it. The union had to approve any alteration to a player’s contract that would reduce his salary. It also had to look out for the best interests of all its members, for whom Rodriguez’s contract was a benchmark rising tide that lifted all boats. And so it said no.
Sounds simple enough. 

That said, per the update, Tony and the union need to get involved on the "no tax, Josh will help us" issue.

3. What is Commissioner Corleone's role, if any?

We know that Rob Manfred, as former Commish Bud Selig's right-hand man for labor issues, was the person who got the Budster to bring the hammer down on A-Rod over Biogenesis. We know that he's been lackadaisical, even when called out on it, in looking at who leaked about Hamilton being under a potential disciplinary gun. Is he seeing this as a chance to push the union, if buyout is the operative word?

4. Given Hamilton's latest relapse is connected to him filing for divorce, and his sobriety support network starting with his soon-to-be ex-wife and ex-father-in-law — as Christian Right/prosperity gospel wingnutty as they are, as I discussed here — what sort of structure does he have for support, or does he expect to have?

Ron Washington is no longer the manager there, after all. With his own background, even if no addiction was involved, of having used cocaine, perhaps Washington, generally known as a "players manager" in terms of clubhouse chemistry, was part of that previous support — and on-field success — too? Jeff Banister may be a decent enough guy, but he didn't manage Hamilton before.

That said, Grant notes:

The Rangers have worked through a number of scenarios, including how Hamilton would fit back into the clubhouse. It should be noted that Roy Silver, who was hired as a special assistant in player development over the winter, operated the faith-based baseball academy at which Hamilton was reintroduced to baseball in 2007.
So, that may help. Or may not.

After all, just a month ago, Silver said Hamilton should retire.

5. Whether as a buyout for "considerations" or a straight trade, who do the Rangers send back? A few people on Hardball Talk have suggested Shin-Soo Choo. That would be even dumber, IMO, for Moreno than keeping Hamilton. Sure, it's over twice as many years, but Choo's remaining contract is 50 percent more than Hamilton's. I've suggested Elvis Andrus, who's just starting a long-term contract that's a moderate but not humongous overpay. Either he or incumbent Erick Aybar could be moved to second, as I highly doubt that Johnny Giovotella's start this season will last.

6. That said, per other fans, I don't get what's in this for the Rangers, other than a marketing deal. They're nowhere near contending this year, and many thought they'd be lucky to finish ahead of the Astros and stay out of the cellar, especially after losing Yu Darvish for the year to Tommy John surgery. Maybe they want butts in seats that badly, and the price was cheap enough, given that we have yet to hear any names of players going back to the Angels.

7. How will he do? Better than in LA, on non-park-adjusted stats, since Arlington's a launch pad and Anaheim is slightly to moderately pitcher friendly.

Adjusted stats? He'll probably do somewhat better than with the Haloes, but a fair amount worse on both adjusted and unadjusted stats than he did with the Rangers the previous go-round. And with him in left and Choo in right, Leonys Martin will have to bring his A game defensively every night.

1 comment:

Snarky McSnarkerson said...

A thorough and well-conveyed post! We used it as a backlink ... http://www.daily-player.com/mlb/josh-hamilton-rangers-will-play-him-angels-will-pay-him