The news broke Monday that Texas Rangers veteran, Josh Hamilton will be out for 2-3 months after undergoing an arthroscopic procedure in his left knee. It is the same knee that sidelined him for the entire 2016 season and is his 11th overall knee surgery in his career.
Even though the surgery is considered a minor operation, the timetable for recovery can take up to eight weeks, if not longer. In Hamilton’s case, with his age (36) and history of knee issues, it makes sense for the Rangers to be on the precautions side for his recovery. Signed to a minor league contract this offseason, Hamilton was looking to return to the lineup and bounce back from a few dismal years where his production has dwindled. This surgery may mark the beginning of the end for his career, which started in 1999 after being the number one overall pick by the Tampa Bay Rays.
If this is in fact his last season, Hamilton will be remembered for being a blue-chip prospect with so much promise, then falling hard into drugs and alcohol and even being out of baseball for a little while, only to bounce back and have a decent career as a power hitter. In terms of production his best years ranged from 2008-2013, where he hit 163 HR, drove in 585 RBI, and had a slash line of .295/.353/.527. His best season came in 2010, when he took home AL MVP honors, mashing 32 HRs, 100 RBIs and had a career best .359 average, and an OPS of 1.044, while playing in just 133 games. The comeback seemed to be complete and he cashed out in a big way.
Prior to the 2013 season Hamilton signed a 5-year/$125 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels. He signed just days after Albert Pujols signed his record deal with the team, and the idea was to pair these two together to jumpstart the offense and power their way into the postseason. This experiment didn’t pan out how the Angels had hoped, as Hamilton only played two seasons in the city of Angels, and was traded back to the Rangers for cash considerations and minor leaguers. The injuries have mounted up and since the start of the 2014 season he has only played in 139 games total and has hit .260/.318/.423 with only 18 HRs and 69 RBIs. He also relapsed in his drug habit and was suspended by the MLB, which contributed to such low numbers.
When and if Hamiltons’ knee fully heals, he will look to rejoin a Rangers squad vying to win the AL west in back-to-back seasons. Prior to the surgery he had been working out at first base in order to reduce the wear and tear on his knee but it was to no avail. He is still owed $24 million this year, however, the Angels are the hook for $22 million of that as he is technically still in the final year of his contract with them. Being the fan favorite that he is, it wouldn’t be a surprise for the Rangers to hang onto him until the season is up and keep him as a bench role player in order for the fans to potentially give him a proper sendoff as the sun starts to set on his roller coaster of a career.