Josh Hamilton released by Rangers and his MLB career could be over

The Josh Hamilton era with the Texas Rangers ended on Friday, as the team released the once-MVP from a minor-league contract after he suffered yet another knee injury that will require surgery. Now the question is: Will this be the end of Hamilton’s tumultuous MLB career?

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Hamilton, 35, hasn’t played in the majors since 2015 because of a list of injuries that’s halted each of his comeback attempts. He was with the Rangers this season on a minor-league deal, hoping to make it back to the big leagues. In spring training, he injured his left knee, which required surgery. While rehabbing from that injury, he has now injured his right knee, which also requires surgery. He had surgery on his knee last summer too.

Josh Hamilton was released by the Rangers on Friday. (AP)
Josh Hamilton was released by the Rangers on Friday. (AP)

Per Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, Hamilton didn’t say this is the end but he also didn’t make a commitment to play again either:

“I am disappointed but not discouraged that my knee problems have not allowed me to play this season,” Hamilton said in a statement. “I plan to have surgery on my right knee and then evaluate the situation. I want to thank the Rangers and all of the great fans for the support and encouragement. I really appreciate it.”

Said Rangers GM Jon Daniels via a statement: “Josh will forever hold a place in Rangers history as one of the most talented, charismatic and productive players to wear our uniform. We wish him all the best in his upcoming recovery, and with his family.”

Hamilton is making $28.4 million this season and made the same in 2016. Incredibly, he’s still the player getting the most money from the Los Angeles Angels, who signed him to a five-year, $125 million deal in 2012. The Angels are paying Hamilton $26.4 million this season. The Rangers are paying him $2 million. Both teams’ payroll obligations to Hamilton end after 2017.

Nothing says this has to be the end for Hamilton, but his knees sure seem to think so. If it is, so ends one of the most up-and-down careers baseball has ever seen. Hamilton was a No. 1 overall pick of the Tampa Bay Rays in 1999. His career flamed out before he even made the big leagues because of problems with drugs and alcohol. Hamilton then turned his life around, reached the big leagues with the Cincinnati Reds in 2007 at age 26, then went to Texas, where he became a star.

He drove in 130 runs for the Rangers in 2008 and by 2010 was the AL MVP. He left the Rangers in free agency, signing that mega contract with the Angels, where he was an immediate disappointment on the field in 2013 and 2014, with the lowlight being an 0-for performance as the Angels were swept out of the postseason after having the best record in MLB in 2014.

Things got worse the next year, as Hamilton needed shoulder surgery in spring training. Then it was revealed that Hamilton had a drug relapse. After that, the Angels traded him back to Texas, agreeing to pay the bulk of his contract. He played 50 games for the Rangers that season, hitting .253 with eight homers. He hasn’t played in an MLB game since.

Hamilton’s saga would suggest that you shouldn’t count him out — because he might have another comeback or final act ahead. That, however, remains to be seen.

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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