(Reuters) - The Los Angeles Angels grabbed Major League Baseball’s prized free agent for a second consecutive year on Thursday by signing slugger Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million contract.
Hamilton, a five-time All-Star who overcame drug and alcohol addictions to become one of Major League Baseball’s most feared hitters, powered the Texas Rangers to consecutive World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011.
He joins a high-powered Angels lineup that includes three-time National League Most Valuable Player (MVP) Albert Pujols, a 32-year-old slugger who signed a 10-year $240 million deal with the team last year.
The Rangers had been hopeful of resigning the 2010 American League MVP and admitted they were caught off guard by Hamilton’s jump to their American League West division rivals.
“Our full expectation was that the phone call was going to be before he signed, certainly not after,” Texas General Manager Jon Daniels said on the team’s website.
“Josh had indicated recently, last week, he told us he felt it might be time to move on but that we were still talking ... I‘m a little disappointed in how it was handled, but he had a decision to make and he made it.”
The 31-year-old hard-hitting outfielder broke into the major leagues in 2007 with the Cincinnati Reds but was traded to the Rangers the following year.
Hamilton has a career .304 batting average, 553 runs batted in and 161 home runs, including a career-high 43 last season.
The Rangers stood by Hamilton as he battled to control is addictions, including a relapse before the start of last season.
But the slugger got the campaign off to a sizzling start and looked to be a Triple Crown threat after slamming 18 homers in the Rangers’ opening 34 games.
Hamilton, however, saw his production fall off in the second half of the season finishing with a .285 batting average and 128 runs batted in.
“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,” said Daniels.
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Frank Pingue