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Josh Hamilton and the Rangers' offseason

After losing to the Baltimore Orioles in the inaugural Wild Card game, the Rangers now find themselves faced with perhaps the biggest offseason in franchise history.

Cooper Neill - Getty Images

Instead of writing about the Texas Rangers' Game 1 LDS win or loss against the Baltimore Orioles, we're left talking about what comes next for the Rangers, after a shocking Wild Card round loss to the Orioles on Friday.

The loss stings, but the Rangers, and Rangers fans, must remember that the future is still very bright. Winning back-to-back pennants is amazing as it is, and winning three in a row just doesn't happen often.

Jon Daniels and the Rangers are now in offseason mode, and fans will be there sooner rather than later.

It's tough to overstate the importance of this particular offseason to the Rangers. The Texas Rangers that you have grown to know and love the last three years could be gone forever.

Josh Hamilton, of course, is Texas' top free agent. But the Rangers also have a handful of other very valuable players headed for free agency. Mike Adams, Koji Uehara, Mike Napoli and Ryan Dempster are all ticketed for free agency -- and the Rangers will not receive draft pick compensation if Dempster leaves.

Hamilton already seems checked out of Texas, and he couldn't have put together a more pitiful performance on Friday night, going 0-4 with two strikeouts, grounding into a double play, and only managing to see eight pitches. After the game, Hamilton gave the Rangers a 50-50 chance of re-signing him.

It simply seems like Hamilton, the backbone of Texas' pennant-winning clubs, will be leaving Arlington for the highest bidder come December. It's unfortunate, but it's likely best for both parties.

Hamilton's departure, if it does happen, will free up $15+ million in payroll for Jon Daniels to play with.

Though Hamilton's free agency is the headliner, Adams and Uehara are key cogs to Texas' staff. Having Uehara and Adams gives Ron Washington a "just add water" bullpen, making late-game managing easy for the skipper. If the Rangers lose one of, or both, Adams and Uehara, it could spell trouble both for Washington and the Rangers. Washington isn't the best tactician as it is, and handing him a shaky bullpen could upset the stomachs of Rangers fans come May.

Napoli, though not the force he was in 2011, still was respectable in 2012, posting a 2.0 fWAR, and clearly possesses game-changing power. If the Rangers won the '11 World Series, Napoli was the easy choice for MVP. Catchers who can hit 30 home runs in a season don't exactly grow on trees, so the Rangers might see some competition for their starting backstop, if they can't get him re-signed.

Dempster, meanwhile, can be easily replaced with in-house candidates, or upgraded via trade or free agency. Of all the Rangers' free agents, Dempster is the easiest to replace, and least important to re-sign.

Of course, the Rangers still have to figure out what to do with the elephant in the room -- the elephant being Michael Young. Young is not an everyday player, and if he demands to play every single day, the Rangers would be better off simply releasing him, and eating the salary.

Who the Rangers to after to potentially replace some of Texas' free agents is still unknown. The Rangers will have money to spend, if they want to make a run at Zack Greinke. They'll have trade chips with a surplus of middle infielders, as well as Mike Olt, if they want to make a run at Justin Upton or David Price.

The 2010-'12 Rangers are in the books. It's been a wildly successful three years for the Rangers. The future remains bright for Texas, but it's going to be an offseason of change -- and likely for the better.

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