Any suspension for outfielder would likely start at beginning of regular season
By Alden Gonzalez
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Josh Hamilton's potential suspension for a drug of abuse would not hinge on his recovery from shoulder surgery. The Angels' outfielder would begin serving a suspension at the beginning of the regular season, regardless of whether he would've started the year on the disabled list, according to people familiar with the process.
That means there's a chance Hamilton's rehab could last longer than his suspension, though the Angels still have no gauge on what the suspension will be or how long his rehab could take. The team has declined comment on the matter, confirming only that Hamilton met with Major League Baseball regarding a disciplinary issue on Wednesday.
What is clear is that the Angels would not have to pay Hamilton while he's suspended. The 33-year-old outfielder is slated to make $23 million in 2015, so the Angels would save $125,683.06 for every day he's suspended -- money they can use towards in-season improvements. If he's out 50 games, for example, they'll save close to $6.3 million.
For the Competitive Balance Tax payroll -- the average annual value of all 40-man-roster contracts, plus benefits and bonuses, which MLB uses to determine which teams exceed the luxury-tax threshold -- the Angels would save the pro-rated portion of Hamilton's AAV of $25 million.
Sources with knowledge of the situation said Hamilton suffered a drug-related relapse over the offseason -- his first public one since October 2005 -- but is currently in a good state of mind and actively rehabbing in Houston. CBSSports.com reported that his relapse involved cocaine, which he confessed to MLB before a failed drug test.
The five-time All-Star was out of baseball from 2003-06, but aside from alcohol-related relapses in 2009 and '12 -- which aren't punishable by MLB -- he has cooperated with the terms of his reinstatement for nearly nine years.
The team has "been in touch" with Hamilton, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, but didn't have any new information on Saturday.
"It's a tough time for Josh," Scioscia said. "There are going to be natural things that he has to work through, and I think we're all waiting to see what the next step is."
Some additional notes from Saturday's workout:
• The Angels will probably need to carry a fifth player who can play the outfield on their Opening Day roster, aside from Matt Joyce, Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun and Collin Cowgill. Scioscia said all four could be in the same lineup from time to time, so he'd need some coverage off the bench. Grant Green and Johnny Giavotella, who are vying for the everyday job at second base, have some experience in left field.
• The Angels will have the fourth-lowest Draft pool (at $5,050,100) and the lowest international-spending pool ($1,968,600) in 2015. For the First-Year Player Draft, the Angels will pick 26th, making it the first time they have first-round picks in back-to-back years since 2010-11. Internationally, they can't sign a player for more than $300,000 in the next two signing periods because of their $8 million signing bonus for Roberto Baldoquin.
• Dark skies hovered throughout Saturday morning, but the Angels were able to get in a full workout before rain came down. Pitchers stayed away from throwing, but the Angels worked on bunt defense and took batting practice. If it rains on Sunday -- there was a 60-percent chance as of midday Saturday -- pitchers can throw indoors.
• Second-base prospect Alex Yarbrough, ranked 11th in the Angels' system by MLB.com, will be getting some work at third base, first base and left field during Spring Training. "It's just to see if the versatility is there," Scioscia said. Yarbrough is a dark-horse candidate to crack the Opening Day roster in a utility role and is likely to start the season in Triple-A.