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Rangers making progress with Josh Hamilton, considering Justin Upton trade

Both Justin Upton and Josh Hamilton are reportedly on Texas' radar during the second day of baseball's Winter Meetings.


It didn't take long for drama to present itself at baseball's annual Winter Meetings. Per ESPN's Jim Bowden, the Texas Rangers are considering two major moves: re-signing Josh Hamilton, and trading Elvis Andrus to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Justin Upton.

There's plenty to digest between the two rumors.

First, there's Hamilton, who many, myself included, believed would never return to Texas -- not as a member of the Rangers at least. In addition to Bowden, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Rangers and Hamilton are making progress toward a four-year deal.

If true, the years certainly make sense from Texas' perspective. Hamilton was previously believed to be seeking a six-year deal, which would Hamilton through his age 38 season. For a player that has injury concerns and has battled off the field addiction problems, six years at this stage of Hamilton's career simply doesn't make sense, and the market certainly didn't develop like Hamilton and his agent thought it would.

After losing Mike Napoli to the Boston Red Sox on Monday, the Rangers need to ensure that they have firepower in their lineup. It seems unlikely that the Rangers will be able to outbid the Los Angeles Dodgers for Zack Greinke, so focusing their attention on retaining Hamilton to a relatively team-friendly deal makes lots of sense.

Then, there's Upton.

Upton is signed through the 2015 season, and will make $10, $14.5 and $14.7 million dollars over the next three seasons before hitting free agency. Still just 25 years old, Upton possesses some of baseball's best tools, and is seemingly ready to develop into a perennial MVP candidate.

Upton had his best season in 2011, when he hit .289/.369/.529, with 31 home runs and 21 stolen bases, en route to a 6.4 fWAR season at age 24. Upton regressed in 2012, and was just a 2.5 fWAR player, but injuries could be to blame for his regression.

Trading Andrus, who has been a 4+ fWAR shortstop the last two seasons, would be a wildly unpopular move. Andus is ticketed for free agency after the 2014 season, and by then, Jurickson Profar would certainly be ready to cement himself as Texas' shortstop.

Profar, though, would be thrust into a starting role next season if Andrus is indeed dealt. For a team that would be in win-now mode, assuming the rumors are true, that's a lot of confidence to put into a player who will turn 20 in February, and has only had 497 at bats above the A level.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.