Texas Rangers Sign Josh Hamilton and Dillon Gee to Minor League Deals

The Texas Rangers signed Josh Hamilton to a long-anticipated minor league contract. They also added Dillon Gee on another minors deal.

The Texas Rangers took two rolls of the dice on Tuesday, officially agreeing to minor league deals with outfielder Josh Hamilton and right-handed pitcher Dillon Gee. The team will give the veterans an opportunity to prove they can contribute at the major league level in 2017.

Hamilton’s return to the Rangers has been in the works for a while. Since the end of last season, in fact. The 35-year-old missed the entire campaign after undergoing yet another knee surgery in May. He was activated in August and then promptly released by the club, allowing them to play him in the major leagues before May 15 of this year should they choose to re-sign him.

Hamilton worked out for the Rangers earlier in the offseason, and they must have liked what they saw enough to ink him to the one-year minors contract. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Hamilton will make the league minimum if he is placed on the big league roster. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Angels will be paying off nearly all of the remaining $28.41 million on the mega-deal they signed with him in 2012.

If Hamilton is not in the major leagues by April 1, he has the right to opt out of the minor league contract.

By now, the many ups and downs of Hamilton’s career are well-known by fans throughout baseball. After substance abuse derailed the former number-one pick’s early career, he improbably surged back as a member of the Rangers, culminating in an MVP-winning performance in 2010. He left for a big-money contract with the Angels prior to the 2013 campaign, but things never came together for the slugger in Los Angeles.

Mounting injuries and recurrences of his drug and alcohol issues waylaid Hamilton’s career once again over the past few seasons. He played in only 139 games between 2014 and 2015, managing a .260/.318/.423 slash line with 18 home runs and 69 RBI. He’s trying to put that all behind him, however, and Texas – the place where he feels most comfortable and enjoyed his best seasons – is likely his best shot at reclaiming any former glory.

No one expects a return to his 2008-2012 numbers, but the Rangers will take a chance and see if Hamilton has anything left to give. After losing Carlos Beltran and Mitch Moreland this offseason, any sort of bounce-back from Hamilton would be of value. He will reportedly give first base a try in an effort to broaden his usefulness.

The Rangers also signed 30-year-old right-hander Dillon Gee to a minors deal to add some more pitching depth to their system. He will earn $2 million if in the majors along with another potential million in incentives. He can opt out on March 29 or June 1.

Gee struggled mightily both in and out of the bullpen last season for the Kansas City Royals. He made 33 appearances (14 of them starts), posting a 4.68 ERA and 1.46 WHIP over 125 innings. Injury issues aren’t far in his rearview either, as groin issues limited him in 2015 with the Mets. He pitched in only eight major league games that season; ineffectiveness (5.90 ERA) led to a demotion to Triple-A, where he spent much of the year.

Nevertheless, Gee is three years removed from putting up a very respectable 3.62 ERA and 1.28 WHIP over 32 starts (199 IP) in 2013. He’s never been a guy who overpowers batters (career 6.5 K/9), but the Rangers will hope he can flash some of his earlier form and carve out a spot on their pitching staff. Hitter-friendly Globe Life Park might not be the best venue for that, but it’s a low-risk proposition.

At the very least, Gee could provide some insurance in case recently-signed Tyson Ross is not quite ready to start the season on time.

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