Hamilton’s Angels deal surprises Rangers

FORT WORTH, Texas — The normally pleasant Texas
Rangers media luncheon took a turn late Thursday
afternoon.

That’s when Texas general manager Jon
Daniels ducked out of the banquet room at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel and
took a call from Mike Moye, Josh Hamilton’s
agent.

Moye informed the club that Hamilton had
agreed to a deal with the Los Angeles Angels. He’s leaving the Rangers
after five seasons — and leaving the club without a chance to make a final pitch,
something they hoped would be the case.   

“This wasn’t like restricted free agency in the NFL
with an offer sheet,” Daniels said. “I never expected he was going to
tell us to the dollar what they had and a chance to offer it. Our full
expectation was that the phone call was going to be before he signed,
certainly not after, kind of giving us an
idea.”

Daniels said that, last week, Hamilton had
indicated to the Rangers that it might be time to move on, but both
sides were still talking.

“I’m not going to get into
the reasons, technically, why,” Daniels said of his optimism that
something could still have gotten done. “We had additional conversations
this week that I thought had it moved it along in a positive direction
— but apparently not.”

Hamilton’s deal with the Angels is for five years and $125 million, FOXSports.com reported Thursday.
Daniels said the Rangers had an offer on the table for Hamilton, but the
guaranteed money was not as much as the Angels are
paying.

“We talked to them about a concept in
Nashville (at the winter meetings),” Daniels said. “It wasn’t a final
offer, but it was an idea of something we wanted to do. We also indicated
we would do something different and respond. My sense is they had a
deadline and accepted the deal.”

While Daniels
wouldn’t get into specifics of the Texas offer to Hamilton, he said the
club hesitated going longer in terms of years for reasons he didn’t want
to divulge.

Daniels thought the relationship that
Hamilton had built with the club over five seasons that saw him win an MVP award, help take the club to two World Series,
endure two alchohol-related relapses and numerous injuries would have
meant more to Hamilton before he made his decision to
leave.

That turned out not to be the
case.

“Josh has done a lot for the organization,”
Daniels said. “The organization has done a lot for Josh. A lot of things
that aren’t public and things of that nature. I’m a little disappointed
in how it was handled. He had a decision to make, and he made
it.”

Daniels knows the road to winning the AL West just got tougher for Texas. The Angels signed Albert
Pujols and C.J. Wilson last offseason and missed the playoffs. Adding
Hamilton to the lineup makes them that much more
formidable.

“They were a great team on paper
beforehand,” Daniels said. “They’re a great team on paper now. They’re
going to be very good.”

The Hamilton news continues
an offseason of misses for Texas. The Rangers have lost free agents
Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Koji Uehara. They also were interested in Zack
Greinke, who signed with Los Angeles Dodgers, and James Shields, who
was traded to Kansas City. The club also traded veteran Michael Young to
Philadelphia last weekend.

Now the Rangers have to
move on.

“We talked all along that we want to play
some of our own guys,” Daniels said. “We were hoping to do it alongside
Josh. I like the idea of the young players playing with some of our
established guys. We have a very good nucleus, but it is what it is.
He’s a big part of the club the last few years, and now he’s on the other
side.”