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Initial take on Josh Hamilton to the Angels (and an Orioles wrinkle?)

The news broke this afternoon that the Los Angeles Angels have agreed to a five-year, $125 million deal, pending a physical, with talented but troubled slugger Josh Hamilton.

As a baseball writer, my first reaction was this: Maybe commissioner Bud Selig should enact a new realignment that creates a division just for the Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers. They play each other 162 times a year (it would cut down on travel expenses, which would help pay the enormous salaries) and the winner gets a playoff spot. Seems fair to me.

As a baseball writer who covers the Orioles, I had two reactions:

1. Good. Now I can stop answering the “Josh Hamilton to the Orioles” questions. He was never in play. The Orioles weren’t ever going to spend $25 million a year on a guy who, with his past addictions and injuries, is considered a risk on a long-term deal. Yet, every now and then, a writer outside of Baltimore would throw the Orioles into the Hamilton sweepstakes and the fire among fans would light again. Now it’s extinguished.

2. What does this mean for the rest of the Angels' position players? The belief before today was that the Angels would have an impressive young outfield of Mike Trout in left, Peter Bourjos in center and Mark Trumbo in right with Vernon Wells serving as an exceptionally expensive fourth outfielder. That would leave the oft-injured and powerful Kendrys Morales as the DH.

With Hamilton in the mix now, the speculation is that the Angels could trade the speedy Bourjos for more pitching. The Orioles wouldn’t be a good fit there. But both Trumbo, who is just 26, and Morales, who is 29 and a year from free agency, can play first base or DH and have ample power – which is what the Orioles are desperately seeking.

A major caution flag here before you buy your Orioles’ Trumbo jersey: Obviously, all of this is fresh, so there’s no telling where it all goes. Plus, the Orioles may not have enough to land a Trumbo or a Morales – it would all depend on what the Angels think of the Orioles’ young pitching. And, if either slugger (or Bourjos) is on the block, plenty of teams will come calling. No question there. There have also already been reports that the Angels are unlikely to trade Trumbo.

But Hamilton as an Angel now has opened up two more potentially available, power-hitting first base/DH types. And that’s an interesting development for the Orioles and other clubs seeking a power bat.

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