Rangers likely miss chance at acquiring Justin Upton, now need Josh Hamilton

Thearon W. Henderson

With Justin Upton now off the trade market, the Rangers need to re-sign Josh Hamilton if they're going to seriously contend for a World Series title in 2013.

On Tuesday night, a three-team trade finally went down in Major League Baseball, involving the Arizona Diamondbacks. Unfortunately for the Rangers, it wasn't the rumored three-team trade from a week ago that would have brought Justin Upton to Texas.

Instead, the Diamondbacks found their shortstop of the future in Didi Gregorious, and sacrificed Trevor Bauer, not Upton, to get it done. Cleveland also held onto to Asdrubal Cabrera, and instead send Shin-Soo Choo to the Cincinnati Reds -- and picked up Bauer in exchange for one year of Choo.

Not bad Cleveland, not bad.

Unfortunately, that takes Upton off the market -- even Kevin Towers has admitted as much.

As you know, the Rangers were actively attempting to acquire Upton, but Texas did not want to give up Elvis Andrus to do so -- a wise move, for the Rangers.

With Upton now off the market, it's essentially imperative for the Rangers to re-sign Josh Hamilton. Though the market hasn't developed like Hamilton probably thought it would for his services, he's still the top bat in this year's free agent class, and he's going to get paid as such.

Texas, though, will face competition from Seattle, and possibly Philadelphia. Further, the Rangers lost a bit of leverage with Upton now off the market. Hamilton knows the Rangers need him if they're going to seriously contend for a World Series title in 2013, and surely, his agent will make Daniels well aware of that fact.

Last week, it was reported that the Rangers were willing to offer Hamilton four years -- and that a deal could likely be hashed out, with options for a fifth and possibly sixth year. It's no guarantee that the Rangers go beyond four years, but if the Mariners offer five, or even six, then Texas might be forced to offer five guaranteed years for Hamilton in order to retain him -- otherwise, they'll run the risk of losing Hamilton and Mike Napoli -- and not even having Upton to show for it.

It's not that Texas will be bad in 2013 even if Hamilton leaves. As currently constructed, the Rangers would have a lineup with Geovany Soto at catcher, Ian Kinsler at first, Jurickson Profar at second, Andrus at short, Adrian Beltre at third, David Murphy in left, either Craig Gentry or Leonys Martin in center and Nelson Cruz in right -- with Mitch Moreland getting at bats somewhere. It's not a terrible lineup, but it's certainly lacking a good bit of thunder.

No, this isn't the dream offseason for the Rangers, and you can argue that it's been a poor offseason. Daniels and the Rangers inexplicably failed to make Napoli a qualifying offer, costing the Rangers a draft pick. Texas whiffed on signing Zack Greinke, though, for the money involved, that might not be the worst thing for the Rangers going forward.

With Upton now off the board, it seems like the Rangers are left with their fall back option -- Josh Hamilton. And hey, that's really not too bad of a fall back option.

Still, this hasn't been a great offseason for the Rangers. Just last week, there was speculation that the Rangers could sign Greinke, Hamilton and trade for Upton. While wholly unrealistic, the idea was planted in Texas' fans minds that it could happen.

It's apparent that the Rangers now need Hamilton -- and that's not so bad. In a sense, Hamilton needs the Rangers too. Hopefully, the two sides can come to a reasonable agreement, and hopefully the Rangers can get away with four guaranteed years.

Be sure to follow JP Starkey on Twitter.

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