Posted on April 21, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The end of the line may finally be here for former MVP Josh Hamilton. On Friday, the Texas Rangers released Hamilton from his minor league contract with the club after the five-time all-star suffered a setback in his return from injury. The team says that Hamilton has suffered an injury to his right knee while doing rehab for his left knee, on which he underwent surgery at the end of February.
Hamilton missed all of the 2016 surgery after undergoing three knee surgeries in a span on nine months. Prior to that, injuries limited him to just 50 games in 2015 in his first season back with the Rangers after things did not work out for Hamilton with the Los Angeles Angels after signing a five-year, $125 million deal with the club prior to the 2013 season. Hamilton was hoping to earn his way back to the big leagues on a minor league deal with the Rangers this spring. However, before the end of February, Hamilton underwent another surgery with a three-month timeline for a return.
With this latest setback, Hamilton must now rehab both knees simultaneously, making it likely that he’s played his last game. However, Hamilton doesn’t seem ready to call it a career.
“I am disappointed but not discouraged that my knee problems have not allowed me to play this season,” Hamilton said Friday in a press release. “I plan to have surgery on my right knee and then evaluate the situation. I want to thank the Rangers and all of the great fans for the support and encouragement. I really appreciate it.”
Hamilton has been through the ringer during his career, struggling with drug addiction and problems with alcohol. Despite multiple relapses, Hamilton was able to get his act together when he joined the Rangers for the first time in 2008, being named an all-star in five consecutive seasons and winning American League MVP and a batting title in 2010.
However, things started to go downhill when he signed with the Angels in 2013. Following another relapse in 2015, he was traded back to the Rangers in hopes that a return to Texas would help him put his problems behind him once and for all. But during his second stint with the Rangers, Hamilton has been plagued by knee injuries, and this latest setback may have cost him his last chance at a return to the majors.
“Josh will forever hold a place in Rangers history as one of the most talented, charismatic and productive players to wear our uniform,” Rangers GM Jon Daniels said in a press release. “We wish him all the best in his upcoming recovery, and with his family.”
Whether he plays this year or not, Hamilton is set to make $24 million in 2017. He’s in the final year of his five-year deal with the Angels, who are on the hook for $22 million of that $24 million salary. However, his attempted comeback was more about pride than fulfilling the final year of his contract. But Hamilton’s pride and determination have not been enough to overcome his chronic knee problems.
If this is indeed it for Hamilton’s career, he finishes with a .290 average and 200 home runs. Those are respectable numbers, but between his problems with addiction and slew of knee surgeries, it’s hard not to view his career as incomplete.