MLB, Angels at odds with union over Josh Hamilton contract

Hamilton, who won’t be suspended for his substance-abuse relapse after an arbitrator ruled in his favor earlier this month, could be in line for more legal drama if the Angels attempt to void at least some of the $83 million he’s due over the next three seasons.

Moreno could rid himself of Hamilton any day he wants, but he would have to write a check for $83 million. On Friday, when Moreno suggested he might have contractual recourse to recover at least part of that money, the players' union responded with a sharply worded statement that essentially said this: No, you don't.

That could trigger a nasty fight, and arbitration. But so could this: What if the Angels took Hamilton back but kept him on the bench?

Hamilton would get his full salary, but Moreno would make his displeasure clear with every lineup card in which the outfield was manned by three other guys.

The union already is prepared for this possibility. Tony Clark, the executive director, would not speak directly to that scenario on Friday.

the Angels have become increasingly vague about Hamilton's rehabilitation from shoulder surgery. If the rancor from management does not abate, it is not difficult to imagine them letting Hamilton linger in rebuilding his shoulder, then keeping him in the minor leagues for the maximum 20 days of a rehabilitation assignment.

Hamilton, who won’t be suspended for his substance=abuse relapse after an arbitrator ruled in his favor earlier this month, could be in line for more legal drama if the Angels attempt to void at least some of the $83 million he’s due over the next three seasons.

MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem indicated to the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday that the Angels would be within their rights to pursue action against the embattled outfielder, particularly if owner Arte Moreno wrote provisions into the contract Hamilton signed with the club in 2012.

“We obviously have a different view than the players’ association regarding the club’s rights under these circumstances.” Halem told the Times’ Bill Shaikin.

 Last week, hours after Moreno said he might try to recoup money owed to Hamilton because of his most recent troubles, the union fired back, saying provisions of baseball’s drug policy prevent clubs from taking such action against a player’s contract.

Hamilton’s $23-million salary for 2015 became fully guaranteed on Opening Day, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, but sources tell the Times that Moreno could still try and challenge the remaining $60 million based on language included in his original deal.

Hamilton is currently rehabbing his surgically-repaired shoulder and isn’t expected back until late May at the earliest.

Moreno could release Hamilton any day he wanted, but only by paying the $83 million remaining on his contract. The two sides could agree on a buyout, although the union generally permits a discount only if the player gets some other benefit.

That benefit could be free agency now rather than waiting until 2017, when Hamilton would be 36, but the value could be negligible given his uneven performance even before the relapse. Also, since Moreno has signaled Hamilton might never play in Anaheim again, any club interested in signing or trading for Hamilton might well wait to see if the Angels.