The Texas Rangers placed injury-plagued outfielder Josh Hamilton on unconditional release waivers Tuesday, while leaving open the possibility of the former MVP rejoining the team on a minor league deal in 2017.
Hamilton underwent season-ending surgery in June to repair torn cartilage in his left knee, and he said in late July that he expects to be fully healthy and ready in time for spring training.
The 35-year-old outfielder was activated off the 60-day disabled list and then placed on waivers. The move, which was expected, affords Hamilton the opportunity to return to the Rangers for spring training on a non-roster deal. If the Rangers hadn't placed him on waivers by the end of August, Hamilton wouldn't have been able to play for them until after May 15, 2017, per Major League Baseball's contract rules.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels told reporters in a conference call that he had discussed the move with Hamilton, most recently on Tuesday.
"I'm hopeful that if he's healthy and our roster is in a spot where we'd still like to have him back, we can work it out," Daniels said. "But that's still a few steps down the line.
"We've talked about it for a period of time, and he understands why we did it."
In the series of moves, the Rangers also recalled right-hander Shawn Tolleson from the minors and put him on the 60-day DL, creating a spot for left-hander Derek Holland to return from the DL and start against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.
Hamilton had surgery June 8 to reconstruct his ACL, and he also had repairs done to his meniscus and lateral cartilage in the knee.
That was Hamilton's third surgery on the knee since September, along with cortisone shots and a stem cell and platelet-rich plasma injection during spring training that may have led to more damage.
Hamilton was a five-time All-Star and the 2010 AL MVP in his five seasons with the Rangers from 2008 to '12. He left in free agency and signed a $125 million, five-year contract with the AL West rival Los Angeles Angels.
The Angels traded Hamilton back to Texas last year when he was coming back from shoulder surgery, and agreed to pay the Rangers for all of his $24 million salary this season and $22 million of the $24 million the outfielder is due in 2017, the last year of that contract. Hamilton played only 50 games last season, hitting .253 with eight homers and 25 RBIs.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.