ANAHEIM -- When the Angels signed Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million deal on in December 2012, it looked like the club was set with one of the game's best players in left field for years to come.Two and a half years later, Hamilton is long gone and the
ANAHEIM -- When the Angels signed Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million deal on in December 2012, it looked like the club was set with one of the game's best players in left field for years to come.
Two and a half years later, Hamilton is long gone and the Angels are still looking for their left fielder after announcing Thursday they had designated their two offseason acquisitions at the position -- Daniel Nava and Craig Gentry -- for assignment.
Hamilton, who is still owed $26.41 million from the Angels this season, finds himself in Texas, sitting out the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery. In his two years with the Angels, Hamilton hit .255 with an OPS of .741 to go with 31 home runs and 123 RBIs. He struggled with injuries for much of his second season with the club, but even when his bat was in the lineup he wasn't playing at the same level that made him the American League MVP in 2010.
The names that have come since have been as numerous as they've been unproductive: Raul Ibanez, David Murphy, David DeJesus, Shane Victorino and Matt Joyce, to name a few. While some, like Joyce, have found success since leaving Anaheim, players such as Ibanez, Murphy DeJesus and Victorino have not played in the Majors since the year of their final game with the Angels.
Since Hamilton's debut with the Angels in 2013, the club's left fielders have produced a .640 OPS, the worst in baseball by 46 points during that span (the Phillies were second-worst). Last year's league-worst mark was the 10th-worst in history.
This season, with Nava and Rafel Ortega -- who is currently in Triple-A Salt Lake -- earning the majority of the starts, the Angels' OPS at the position is a league-worst .583. That's on pace for the seventh-worst mark by a left field in Major League history.
Now, with Nava and Gentry gone, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said the club with have to use a "piecemeal" approach as the make their way through the rest of the season.
Five players will likely vie for playing time at the spot when healthy -- Shane Robinson, Ji-Man Choi (Sunday's starter), Jefry Marte, Cliff Pennington and Gregorio Petit. Of the five, the only one with significant playing time in the outfield is Robinson, whose career OPS is .611. Choi (.572 OPS) and Marte (.704 career OPS) are natural first basemen, while Pennington (.659 career OPS) and Petit (.690 career OPS) have been infielders during their entire careers. Before earning the start in left for Wednesday's game against the Royals, Petit hadn't played the outfield for a single inning in either the winter leagues, the Minors or in the Majors.
Scioscia said he's trying to keep as many options open as possible with his current roster, as it appears the team will not be seeking external solutions to solve the lack of production.
"We need to build versatility in as many players as we can, especially if they can matchup and help us swinging the bat," Scioscia said.
• Angels infielder Cliff Pennington, who was eligible to come off the disabled list on Sunday, will join the team for Tuesday's series opener against Oakland, Scioscia said.
• Angels right-hander Nick Tropeano is still collecting information and hasn't made a decision on Tommy John surgery. Tropeano received a second opinion last week in New York, confirming the diagnosis of a mid- to high-level tear in his ulnar collateral ligament.
Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Anaheim.