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All signs point to Josh Hamilton leaving the Texas Rangers, and here's how the Rangers could go about replacing the 2010 American League MVP.
The 2013 Texas Rangers figure to be different from the 2010-12 Texas Rangers -- the same '10-'12 Rangers that won two pennants and a wild card berth.
How different the '13 Rangers end up being from the '10-'12 Rangers remains to be seen, but it's looking more and more likely that Josh Hamilton, the 2010 American League MVP, will not be with the Rangers come next spring.
Hamilton has made it clear that he will not give the Rangers a hometown discount, and judging from his play down the stretch, coupled with Rangers fans' reaction to Hamilton's play, it seems like a change of scenery is best for both parties.
With Hamilton coming off of the books, the Rangers will have some money to play with in free agency this winter -- should they choose to spend it. And they will -- because, well, they'll have to at least attempt to replace Hamilton's production.
Jon Daniels will have plenty of options this winter. Tampa Bay Rays centerfielder B.J. Upton is a free agent, and he should thrive outside of Tropicana Field. Upton has been a frustrating player for the Rays, seemingly under-performing each year. Upton's OBP this year, for example, was a meager .298, and Upton has never matched his 2007 performance, when he hit .300/.386/.508, with 24 home runs and 22 steals.
Though Upton isn't going to hit like Hamilton, he could be a capable replacement in center.
The Rangers could also have an opportunity to acquire Upton's brother, Justin Upton. The Arizona Diamondbacks were reportedly shopping Upton over the summer, but were unable to find a package to their liking. If the Rangers decided to start a package with either Elvis Andrus or Mike Olt, the Diamondbacks would almost certainly listen.
Like his brother B.J., Justin Upton hasn't quite lived up to the astronomical expectations surrounding him. Still, in 2011, Justin Upton was a 5.7 bWAR player, belting 31 home runs to go along with a .289/.369/.529 line. Upton will be in his age 26 season next year, and is entering the prime of his career.
The catch with acquiring Upton is twofold: the price could be more than Daniels wants to pay, and Upton was plagued by a shoulder injury this past year. It's not everyday that general managers want to listen to offers on young MVP candidates, so there's certainly a red flag with Upton in this scenario.
Daniels could also decide to attempt to bolster the pitching staff. One of baseball's top pitchers is a free agent this winter, as Zack Greinke remains un-signed by the Los Angeles Angels, and there's no indication that Greinke will re-sign prior to testing the free agent market.
Greinke would give the Rangers one of, if not the, best 1-2 punches in the league with Yu Darvish and Greinke. Texas could then round out their rotation with Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, and eventually Colby Lewis. Texas would have plenty of options to choose from for the fifth and final spot in the rotation -- and as we all know, having too much pitching is a good thing.
Daniels always keeps things close to the vest, so it's impossible to tell what the Rangers will end up doing -- but they'll do something. They have to, and Daniels knows this.
For many Rangers fans, this time will likely be bittersweet, as the Hamilton era is ending in Arlington. But the future is still very, very bright, and a shakeup could be jut what the Rangers need to return to the World Series in 2013.