Some pretty shocking news has popped up today, courtesy of Joe McDonnell of Fox Sports West: the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are reportedly deep in negotiations with free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton. Buster Olney of ESPN confirmed that the Angels were up to something, saying that he hears the team is positioning themselves for a "big strike" in the free agent market, and Hamilton could be their guy.
Talking to our own Garrett Wilson (also of the fantastic Angels blog Monkey With a Halo), he believes that if the team does sign Hamilton, they'll look to trade Peter Bourjos or Kendrys Morales for rotation help. If Bourjos is dealt, Hamilton would likely flank center fielder Mike Trout with Mark Trumbo in right, and if Morales was traded, Hamilton could play right with Bourjos in left, Trout in center, and Trumbo at DH.
The Angels actually have some payroll flexibility after they weren't able to re-sign Zack Greinke. despite the behemoth contracts of Vernon Wells on the ledger. But the contracts the team has with Jered Weaver, Albert Pujols, and CJ Wilson are all backloaded, giving the Angels some flexibility while Wells is still being paid by the team. If the team were able to bring in Hamilton at $20-25 million a year or so, not only would they help their own offense, but they'd deal a devastating blow to their AL West rival Texas Rangers. And then, with Hamilton safely signed, the team could look to move the valuable Bourjos for rotation help, another area they're competing with the Rangers this winter.
But remember, Hamilton isn't a sure thing. He's 31-years old, and has had over 600 plate appearanes in just two of his six career seasons. While signing Hamilton might help the Angels in 2013 and 2014, a potential deal could be a crippling shot to the organization's flexibility beyond that time period, which is when Mike Trout will start getting expensive in arbitration.