Josh Hamilton, the most talented player to ever wear a Rangers uniform, has been released by the team, effective Tuesday afternoon. Hamilton's second stint with the Rangers ended with his being placed on unconditional release waivers following his not playing a game in 2016 due to injury.
The move ensures that Hamilton will not be on the team's roster should it win the World Series for the first time in Rangers history this fall, which is both sad and somehow fitting.
The Rangers acquired Hamilton prior to 2008 for former top pitching prospect Edinson Volquez. It was a classic challenge trade. Volquez hadn't lived up to hype he'd built on his ascent through the minor leagues as part of the vaunted DVD trio of pitching prospects. (The D's, in case you're curious, are John Danks and Thomas Diamond). Hamilton had just shown the first flashes of putting it back together following a long descent into alcoholism and drug addiction that followed his getting injured soon after being drafted No. 1 overall by the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1999.
Hamilton was an immediate success for the Rangers on the field and at the box office. The team's fans loved the redemption mythology Hamilton created, and, for the first couple of years at least, the outfielder hit enough that the club was willing to forgive multiple relapses.
In 2010, Hamilton had a truly great season. He hit .359, slugged .633, got on base more than 40 percent of the time and won the American League Championship Series MVP for a team that made the World Series. He was very good the next two seasons as well, culminating in his memorable four home-run game at Camden Yards on May 8, 2012.
If he was anything though, Hamilton was mercurial. During that same 2012 season, he complained his eye color (blue) made it hard for him to hit during day games, struck out in more than a quarter of his at bats and botched an easy pop-up during the last day of the season loss that cost the Rangers the AL West championship. He was frustrating enough that fans didn't make too much of a fuss when the Rangers let him walk after the season.
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The Angels signed Hamilton to a $125 million contract during the 2012 offseason, and he was never better than terrible for the Halos. Hamilton was so bad that the Angels traded him back to the Rangers for nothing last summer.
Given the price tag, the Rangers were smart to experiment, but Hamilton's slowing bat and deteriorating knees kept him from making much of a contribution. There was hope that he might be able to get himself healthy prior to 2016, but that never happened. The only game Hamilton appeared in this year was an aborted rehab effort for Frisco on April 30.
Hamilton's release means that he won't have be added to the team's 40-man roster when the 60-day disabled list is put on hold following the conclusion of the World Series.
Hamilton said in July that he'd be open to signing a minor league contract with the Rangers and trying to play his way into a job, were he to be released, but you'd probably be better off if you didn't hold your breath.