Other Dominoes to Fall After Josh Hamilton's Huge Deal with the LA Angels

Ian Casselberry@iancassMLB Lead WriterDecember 14, 2012

Other Dominoes to Fall After Josh Hamilton's Huge Deal with the LA Angels

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    Josh Hamilton surprised the MLB world by signing a five-year, $125 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday (Dec. 13). 

    By coming out of seemingly nowhere to nab the top hitter available on the free-agent market, the Angels dealt a major blow to the Texas Rangers, an AL West division rival. But the ripple effects from this signing are being felt throughout the sport. 

    Hamilton joining the Angels could end up affecting several teams over the days and weeks to come. Obviously, the Rangers have to replace Hamilton. Other clubs that were pursuing him now have to go with their backup plans.

    The Angels also now have a surplus of outfielders that could lead to a trade, one that might yield the starting pitcher that the Angels still need. 

    Here are several dominoes that could fall, given a push by Hamilton's surprise decision. The possibilities are extremely intriguing and should keep baseball's hot stove burning for quite a while. 

Could Angels Trade for R.A. Dickey?

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    Now that Josh Hamilton has signed with the Los Angeles Angels, the Halos have a surplus of outfielders. 

    The New York Mets need one-to-two outfielders for next season and are currently at odds in negotiating a contract extension with NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.

    The Mets made a two-year, $20 million offer to the knuckleballer, but Dickey is looking for something in the $26-28 million range, according to ESPN New York's Adam Rubin. Additionally, the New York Post reports that the team is upset with Dickey making his dissatisfaction over contract negotiations public.

    A trade seems likely and the Angels could be a good partner, with players like Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo available. Trading Vernon Wells surely isn't a possibility—though the Angels would love to shed the $42 million owed to him over the next two years.

    Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan tweeted that the Angels have shown interest in Dickey. He would be a nice replacement for Zack Greinke in their starting rotation and would allow Joe Blanton to be the fifth starter, which is where he should be.

    However, Newsday's Marc Carig spoke to a Mets source who shot down the idea of Dickey being traded for any of the Angels' spare outfielders. 

Is Adam LaRoche Now on Rangers' Radar?

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    The Washington Nationals want Adam LaRoche back as their first baseman next season. LaRoche wants to re-sign with the Nats and probably end his career in D.C.

    Yet the two sides haven't come to an agreement on a contract yet. According to The Washington Post's James Wagner, LaRoche wants a three-year deal. But the Nationals aren't budging past two years, keeping an eye on other players who will eventually need contract extensions, such as Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond.

    That leaves an opening for the Rangers, if they want a left-handed power bat that can help replace Josh Hamilton's production. LaRoche had an MVP-caliber season for the Nats, slugging 33 home runs with 100 RBI. He would also improve an already good Texas infield defense with his glove at first base.

    The question is whether or not Texas wants to try Ian Kinsler at first base, with Jurickson Profar taking over at second. If that's the case, there's obviously no need for LaRoche and the Rangers can focus on pursuing an outfielder. 

Will Angels Put Mark Trumbo on the Trade Block?

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    If a hitter coming off a season during which he hit 32 home runs with 92 RBI was suddenly put on the trade block, how much interest do you think he might attract?

    That's a question Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto might be mulling over after signing Josh Hamilton. To trade Mark Trumbo or not to trade him?

    Center fielder Peter Bourjos is probably the more likely to go, as the Angels would seemingly want to keep Trumbo's bat in their lineup. But if the Halos want to emphasize defense in their outfield next season, perhaps Trumbo could be expendable.

    Trumbo won't play first base with Albert Pujols around for nine more seasons. An idea to try him at third base this year lasted all of eight games. Maybe the Angels could move Trumbo to designated hitter, but that creates another logjam with Kendrys Morales. 

    Any club looking for a right-handed power bat for a corner-outfield spot, such as the Philadelphia Phillies or Atlanta Braves, would surely be interested in Trumbo if he were made available. 

    It should be noted, however, that ESPN's Buster Olney reported that the Angels say they do not want to trade Trumbo. Some team will obviously have to change Dipoto's mind on that stance.

Could Phillies Now Go Hard After Nick Swisher?

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    The Philadelphia Phillies were one of the teams in pursuit of Josh Hamilton.

    According to a local radio report, the Phils had a three-year offer on the table. The value of the contract wasn't known, but speculation had it in the $80 million range. As it turns out, the package wasn't enough, compared to the five-year, $125 million deal Hamilton got from the Angels.

    That leaves the Phillies still looking for a corner outfielder who can supply some power. Cody Ross might be the best lower-cost option, one who's good for 20 home runs per season. Even better, he's right-handed, which suits Philadelphia's lineup.

    But Nick Swisher could have a bigger impact on the Phillies. Now that Hamilton's gone, he's the best power-hitting outfielder left on the free-agent market. 

    Not only can he play both corner-outfield spots, but he could also be an option at first base. As a switch-hitter, Swisher would bat left-handed most of the time, but he would obviously turn around against lefty pitching, making him a good fill-in for Ryan Howard. 

Is Kendrys Morales Trade Bait for Angels?

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    If the Los Angeles Angels don't trade Mark Trumbo or Peter Bourjos, they will likely try to deal Kendrys Morales to clear their roster logjam. 

    Morales returned to the Angels' lineup this year after missing two-thirds of the 2010 season and all of 2011 recovering from a broken leg suffered in a freak accident during a walk-off celebration at home plate. 

    In 134 games, Morales hit .273 with a .787 OPS, 22 home runs and 73 RBI. But he is three years removed from a season during which he hit .306 with a .924 OPS. Morales also slugged 43 doubles with 34 home runs and 108 RBI in 2009. 

    The trade market for Morales might not be great if the Angels prefer not to deal him to an American League team. But he would be a nice fit with the Baltimore Orioles or Toronto Blue Jays.

    The Miami Marlins would surely love to have him at first base, but Morales is a year away from free agency and the Marlins probably don't want a rental player. Morales would also be a good middle-of-the-order run-producer for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Do Rangers Make a Run at Giancarlo Stanton?

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    After losing Josh Hamilton to free agency and failing to come up with a trade package for Justin Upton, there's one more impact outfielder that could be available. MLB.com's Joe Frisaro wonders if the Rangers might now pursue Giancarlo Stanton. 

    But Texas general manager Jon Daniels may have to give up more than he's been willing to before. 

    Stanton wants out of Miami in the worst way after the Marlins gutted the team by trading five of their best players to the Toronto Blue Jays. Any thoughts of contending in the NL East next season went to Toronto with Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck. 

    However, Stanton is under team control for the next four years, and the Marlins may want to keep him for another couple of seasons while he's still relatively affordable. Besides, the Marlins need some star power in the lineup to give disenchanted fans at least one reason to watch the team next season. 

    But Stanton would be a tremendous addition to the Texas lineup. If he can hit 37 home runs at Marlins Park, what is he capable of doing if he played 81 games at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington? 

    Stanton bats right-handed, and a left-handed hitter would probably be a better mix with Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz. However, with the production Stanton provides, the Rangers probably wouldn't care about that minor detail. 

    Yet if Daniels wasn't willing to give up what was necessary to get Upton, would he change his mind for Stanton? Would one of the Rangers' shortstops be in play? How about Mike Olt? A young pitcher like Martin Perez would surely have to be part of the package as well. 

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