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Hamilton jumps to Angels for $125M over 5 years

Friday - 12/14/2012, 5:23am  ET

FILE - In this June 3, 2012, file photo, Texas Rangers' Josh Hamilton stands in the dugout during the first inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics in Arlington, Texas. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, that Hamilton has agreed to a contract with the Los Angeles Angels. (AP Photo/Tim Sharp, File)

MIKE FITZPATRICK
AP Sports Writer

For the second straight year, the biggest bat on the free-agent market is headed to the high-rolling Angels.

Josh Hamilton agreed to a $125 million, five-year contract with Los Angeles on Thursday, leaving the AL West rival Texas Rangers and becoming the latest high-profile star to migrate to Southern California.

Last winter, the Angels lured slugger Albert Pujols with a $240 million deal and pitcher C.J. Wilson -- who was Hamilton's teammate in Texas -- for $77.5 million. Still, the club missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season.

"He's a tremendous talent and I think that they've shown they're going to be in on a lot of the best players out there," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said about Hamilton. "No sugarcoating it, we wanted the player back. And he signed with the Angels. They're better."

In other news, the Boston Red Sox agreed with Ryan Dempster on a two-year deal worth $26.5 million, while the New York Yankees and Ichiro Suzuki closed in on a contract that would guarantee him between $12 million and $13 million.

Players around the majors who finalized deals included Shane Victorino (Red Sox), Kevin Correia (Twins), Jack Hannahan (Reds), Andres Torres (Giants) and Nate McLouth (Orioles).

But it was Hamilton's decision that made headlines.

Daniels said the 2010 AL MVP had reached a deal with the Angels, another coup for owner Arte Moreno and GM Jerry Dipoto. Two people familiar with the talks disclosed the amount and length of the contract, speaking on condition of anonymity because the agreement was not yet final.

"It's a great day to be an Angel/Angel fan!" Wilson said on his Twitter account.

Los Angeles had spent most of the offseason transforming its pitching staff with the additions of starters Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton along with relievers Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett.

Now, Hamilton joins a power-packed lineup in Anaheim that includes Pujols, Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales.

The 31-year-old slugger had a career-high 43 home runs with 128 RBIs in 148 games last season, when the wild-card Rangers slipped up down the stretch and lost the division title to Oakland on the final day of the regular season.

Hamilton was considered a risk by some teams because of his history of alcohol and substance abuse, which derailed his career before his surge with Texas over the past five seasons.

"Josh has done a lot for the organization, the organization has done a lot for Josh, a lot of things that aren't public and things of that nature," Daniels said. "I'm a little disappointed how it was handled, but he had a decision to make and he made it."

Speaking after a Rangers holiday luncheon, Daniels said he had just been informed of the decision by Hamilton's agent, Michael Moye.

Daniels said he was disappointed "to some degree," especially since the Rangers never got a chance to match any offer during the process, as they had expected. Or at least to be contacted before Hamilton chose another team.

"I never expected that he was going to tell us to the dollar what they had, and a chance to offer it. Our full expectation, the phone call was going to be before he signed, and certainly not after," Daniels said. "Everybody's got to make their own calls."

While he wouldn't get into specifics, Daniels said his understanding is the deal with the Angels "is certainly more guaranteed money."

Hamilton's $25 million average salary matches Philadelphia first baseman Ryan Howard for the second-highest in baseball, trailing only Alex Rodriguez's $27.5 million average with the Yankees.

The agreement came days after the Los Angeles Dodgers added pitchers Zack Greinke and Ryu Hyun-jin, boosting their payroll over $200 million. Greinke, another offseason target, said he chose the Dodgers over the Rangers.

Elsewhere, the Yankees and Suzuki were likely to settle on a two-year deal, according to a person familiar with the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity because talks were ongoing.

Acquired from Seattle on July 23, the 39-year-old Suzuki revived his career in New York. A 10-time All-Star, he hit .322 with five homers, 27 RBIs and 14 steals in 67 games for the Yankees to help them win the AL East.

New York also planned to finalize a $12 million, one-year contract Friday with Kevin Youkilis.

The Red Sox landed a reliable starter in Dempster, two people familiar with the negotiations said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the agreement was pending a physical.

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