Fantasy Impact: If the Angels were the favorites to sign free agent Josh Hamilton all along, Jerry Dipoto and Co. certainly did a good job of hiding it. Their lack of public interest didn't stop them from adding the slugging outfielder to a five-year, $125M pact.
What The Angels Get: Simply put, Josh Hamilton. The Angels signing adds Hamilton to an already strong lineup that includes 2012 AL All-Stars Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, and Mark Trumbo. The Angels will have to find space in the outfield for Hamilton, so it's likely that Peter Bourjos or preferably Vernon Wells will be moved this offseason as well. Don't overlook Los Angeles becoming the new baseball hotspot, with the new Dodgers organization and Angels ownership showing they're willing to spend on big names to win in 2013.
The Angels could still look to move Bourjos and/or Wells to help their pitching staff which has lost the likes of Dan Haren, Zack Greinke, and Ervin Santana this offseason. The signing of Joe Blanton and trade for Tommy Hanson will help from a depth standpoint, so perhaps instead of pitching they could be looking to replace Wells' contract with a prospect that can replace shortstop Jean Segura, who was surrendered when the Angels acquired Greinke.
Those worried about Hamilton's past transgressions shouldn't fret that the big city of L.A. will undo all the positive progress he's made over the last few years. It should be more worrisome that Hamilton's production dropped off after a blazing hot start to 2012, but he'll get to hit in a stronger lineup on the Angels, albeit in a weaker park for power than in Arlington. Teams seemed to figure out that throwing Hamilton strikes more-often-than-not ended up in the seats or laced as doubles, but they stopped and the numbers started to hit the skids.
Fantasy Players Impacted: The biggest fantasy impact of the deal could come on the front of the Texas Rangers. Seeing how they'll replace some or all of Hamilton's 43 HR, 103 Runs, and 128 RBI will see whether they can make it to the AL Wild Card game again and possibly even further into the postseason like they did in 2011.
The likeliest replacement for Hamilton looks to be Leonys Martin, who didn't really impress over his 24 game trial in 2012, batting just .174 and knocking in 6 RBI's, but has shown enough prowess that Fangraphs' writer Mike Newman named him one of the top centerfielders of 2012. If this is a sign that the Rangers would like to see Martin, along with increased playing time for Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar in 2013, then that bodes well for the future of the Rangers lineup. The Angels will be far and away the favorites to win the AL West, but if Texas remains patient with their tremendous group of prospect hitters, they should be right in the hunt for the Wild Card as well.
Perhaps this could ultimately be the domino-toppling deal that causes a team like Texas to overpay a bit to land Nick Swisher, who is still in play and makes a big-name draw for the Rangers. Swisher could step into Arlington and be a switch-hitting threat to top 25 HR, 95 RBI and bat around his usual .260 AVG. There's also the possiblity of a Justin Upton trade from Arizona involving Elvis Andrus, but that's still mere speculation at this point in time.
The Angels will see an immediate bump in value for their top-four hitters with the additon of Hamilton, even without Torii Hunter batting second this season. If teams elect to pitch around Hamilton they'll have to contend with Pujols, which was no easy task in 2012. Hamilton will need to lower his 9.4% strikeout rate which was he highest since his first year with Texas in 2009. Same can be said for facing Mark Trumbo, who the Angels would ideally like to slot in as their fifth hitter.
Fantasy Players Helped:
- Leonys Martin (TEX)
- Albert Pujols (LAA)
- Mike Trout (LAA)
- David Murphy (TEX)
- Jurickson Profar (TEX)
Fantasy Players Hurt:
- Vernon Wells (LAA)
- Peter Bourjos (LAA)
- Elvis Andrus (TEX)
- Randal Grichuk (LAA)
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