Arbitration Likely to Go Against Los Angeles Angels in Hamilton Case
Experiencing serious buyer’s remorse with their five-year, $123 million contract with star outfielder (and struggling substance abuser) Josh Hamilton, the Los Angeles Angels major league baseball team are attempting to rid themselves of the remainder of Hamilton’s contract after he admitted to a relapse involving alcohol and cocaine over the off season.
However, in a strange quirk the fact that Hamilton admitted to the relapse without being forced to by a failed drug test has given the Player’s Union cause to argue that his contract is protected and that he did not, in fact, violate clauses in the contract designed specifically to protect the team in case he suffered a relapse. The two sides are entering arbitration over the matter, and it is widely expected that the team will lose and be forced to pay Hamilton the remaining $60 million on his contract.
Hamilton famously recovered from drug addiction to become the 2010 Most Valuable Player in the MLB. However, in recent years his sobriety has been suspect, culminating in his admitting to a relapse in the Winter of 2014. The Angels’ decision to sign Hamilton at the age of 31 for such a large contract was widely criticized at the time, but owners felt they had insured themselves against his off-field behavior.
If the arbitration goes against the team it may be a Pyrrhic Victory for the player’s union in a sense, as it will discourage teams from investing in players recovering from substance abuse issues in the future.