Josh Hamilton's playing career might very well be over.
The Texas Rangers announced Friday that Hamilton has been released from his minor-league contract and will soon undergo yet another right knee surgery. Hamilton hurt his knee in spring training, had surgery in February, then hurt the knee again while rehabbing. He'll have another procedure soon.
"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."
"Josh will forever hold a place in Rangers history as one of the most talented, charismatic and productive players to wear our uniform," general manager Jon Daniels said in a statement. "We wish him all the best in his upcoming recovery, and with his family."
Hamilton, 36 in May, has not played since 2015 due to ongoing injury issues, including knee problems. He appeared in only 50 games in 2015 and 89 in 2014. This is the final season on the five-year, $125 million contract Hamilton signed with the Angels. The Halos are paying him $26.41 million this year.
If this is the end of Hamilton's playing career, he will go down as one of the most embattled yet productive players in recent memory. The (Devil) Rays selected Hamilton with the first pick in the 1999 draft, but drug and alcohol addiction sabotaged his career. It wasn't until 2007 that he resurfaced with the Reds as a Rule 5 Draft pick. A year later he was traded to Texas.
With the Rangers from 2008-12, Hamilton hit .305/.363/.549 (137 OPS+) with 142 home runs while averaging 129.4 games per season. He was an All-Star all five seasons and named AL MVP in 2010, a season in which he hit .359/.411/.633 (170 OPS+) with 40 doubles and 32 home runs. On May 8, 2012, Hamilton hit four home runs in one game.
On Aug. 17, 2008, Hamilton was intentionally walked with the bases loaded by Joe Maddon and the Rays, the team that originally drafted him. It was only the fifth time in history -- and only the second time in the past 60 years -- that a player was intentionally walked with the bases full. It's the ultimate sign of respect.
Although addiction ruined the start of his career and injuries hurt him at the end, Hamilton is a career .290/.349/.516 (129 OPS+) hitter with 200 home runs and 28.1 WAR in parts of nine seasons. Considering his off-field issues as a young man, it's remarkable he was able to get back on a baseball field and become a dominant player.