The hot stove season always takes unexpected turns, and this afternoon it took the most unexpected turn we've seen in some time. Seemingly out of nowhere the Los Angeles Angels swooped in and signed Josh Hamilton. Legendary L.A. radio man Joe McDonnell had the first news that a deal with close. Within an hour it was reported by multiple sources, starting with ESPN Dallas, that the Angels and Hamilton had reached deal. Fox's Jon Paul Morosi was the first to report that it was a five-year deal. The money: $125 million.
This makes it two years running that the Angels have signed the best available free agent hitter, with Albert Pujols coming into the fold. It also marks the second straight year that the Angels have signed away the Rangers top departing free agent, with C.J. Wilson heading to the Angels last year as well. The year before that Mike Napoli made a circuitous journey from Anaheim to the Rangers, helping Texas win the pennant.
This is the best rivalry in baseball now and it's not even close. Heck, maybe the second best rivalry -- or rivalry to be -- involves the Angels and the Dodgers. Each L.A. team is lapping the field in terms of big money signings, with each fighting to become or remain the darlings of the nation's second largest media market. It had appeared that the newly-free-spending Dodgers were regaining that title for keeps, but with Hamilton in the fold down in Orange County, the war for the hearts and minds of L.A. baseball fans is ON.
With the caveat that, yes, we said this last year too, it's probably safe to say that the Angels are the favorites in the AL West. Their potential lineup is fantastic:
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