It appears that $125 million man Josh Hamilton could be headed for another rough season in 2015.

Limited by injuries to just 89 games last season, the Los Angeles Angels slugger is now scheduled for surgery this Wednesday to repair the AC joint in that same right shoulder.

That according to tweets from the team’s official Twitter account:

The immediate question that jumps to mind is why this was not taken care of immediately following the season, considering that same right shoulder cost him 11 games in September. But let’s instead focus on what this means for Hamilton going forward.

The former No. 1 overall pick in the 1999 draft joined the Angels in the offseason leading up to the 2013 season, signing a five-year, $125 million deal as the top bat on the market.

That came just a year after the Angels shelled out $240 million over 10 years to sign Albert Pujols and another $77.5 million over five years for starter C.J. Wilson.

However, that high-priced trio has only managed to produce one disappointing American League Division Series exit in three years, and at least for Hamilton, it looks like 2015 could bring more disappointment.

The 33-year-old outfielder has fallen a long way from his time with the Texas Rangers, when he was one of the most productive run producers in the league and an All-Star in five straight seasons.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports may have put it best when news broke that Hamilton was headed for surgery:

Hamilton was entering his age-32 season when he joined the Angels, so there was plenty of reason to think he had at least a few more prime seasons in the tank.

However, there were also red flags of the injuries to come, as he topped 140 games in just two of his five seasons in Texas and averaged just 129 games per year.

Injuries were not the issue during his first season with the Angels, as he played 151 games. It was a simple lack of production.

In fact, his statistical drop-off from 2012 to 2013, when you consider that he had an identical number of plate appearances (636), is staggering.

Despite those struggles, a bounce-back season seemed to be in the works this past year when he opened the season hitting .444/.545/.741 through his first eight games.

A thumb injury quickly put a stop to that, though, and he missed 48 games after undergoing surgery to repair a torn UCL.

He returned on June 3 and managed to stay relatively healthy until his early September shoulder injury, but he would hit just .247/.310/.386 with eight home runs in 308 at-bats over that 80-game span.

With the thumb injury behind him and a full offseason to prepare for 2015, Hamilton had high hopes for a big turnaround.

Just over a week ago, Alden Gonzalez of tweeted about his expectations for Hamilton’s upcoming campaign:

Now a more realistic goal seems to be simply getting healthy and staying on the field, and that’s not exactly the sort of thing a team wants to be shooting for when it’s set to pay a player $23 million.

To the Angels’ credit, they were proactive this winter despite a roster that looked more or less complete heading into the offseason.

One of the pieces they picked up was outfielder Matt Joyce in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays, and he gives the team a player capable of stepping into an expanded role and producing.

When Hamilton went down last year, the team was forced to go with a combination of Grant Green, Collin Cowgill, J.B. Shuck and Raul Ibanez in left field, with none of them providing much in the way of consistency.

Now they at least won’t have to mix and match on a daily basis, though they will likely still opt for a platoon, considering Joyce hit just .147 with a .408 OPS against left-handed pitching last year.

With a late start to the regular season, Hamilton will be playing catch-up once he debuts, and that does not bode well for a player coming off of back-to-back disappointing seasons.

At this point the Angels are still on the hook for $83 million over the next three years, so they will give him every chance to turn things around.

However, it’s hard not to think this latest setback is just the start of another disappointing season for a player who has fallen a long way from his days in Texas.


All stats courtesy of Baseball, unless otherwise noted.

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