Angels owner: We obtained relapse language in Josh Hamilton contract
Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno said his team obtained language in outfielder Josh Hamilton's contract protecting them from another drug relapse by the player, and that the team is pursuing action based on their recourse, according to the Orange County Register.
Moreno's statements, which came in the lead up to the team's home opener Friday against Kansas City, appeared to contradict his previous statements that such language was not enforceable.
Moreno said the language was allowed if approved by MLB and the MLB Players’ Association. He did not specify what Hamilton's contract stated in regards to drug use.
The Major League Baseball Players' Association released a statement Friday emphatically denying Moreno's assertion that the players' union had granted approval of substance-abuse-related language in Hamilton's contract.
"To the contrary," the MLBPA statement said, "the collectively bargained provisioned of the [Joint Drug Agreement] and Basic Agreement supersede all other player contract provisions and explicitly prevent clubs from exactly the type of action Mr. Moreno alluded to."
Hamilton reportedly had a cocaine relapse over the 2014-15 off-season. An arbiter ruled last week Hamilton would not be suspended and that he did not violate his treatment program.
"We are disappointed that [Hamilton] has broken an important commitment which he made to himself, his family, his teammates and our fans,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said in response to the ruling.
Los Angeles signed Hamilton to a five-year contract in December 2012. Hamilton has a history of drug abuse.
Had Hamilton been suspended, Anaheim would have not have had to pay a significant portion of Hamilton's $23 million 2015 salary.
- Will Green