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Josh Hamilton ranked third-best free agent by Keith Law

The ESPN analyst ranked him behind both Zach Greinke and BJ Upton.

Al Bello

After the first two months of the 2012 season, when Josh Hamilton was hitting at a historic pace, it would have been inconceivable that he wouldn't be the most sought-after free agent on the market.

However, a series of injuries, puzzling absences and slumps has somewhat depressed his stock, with ESPN Insider Keith Law ranking him as the No. 3 available free agent and only the No. 2 available CF:

Hamilton should have been in line for a monster deal this winter, but major league scouts who went in to see him in September had to come away with reservations. His power was there, but he looked like more of a mistake hitter. He has some more 2010-like stretches in him, but I doubt he plays 150 games in any one season again. Since he's an old 31 already, I'd be loath to go beyond three years.

As Law mentions, giving Hamilton a significant long-term deal is rife with risk, not just his injuries but also with the possibility of a relapse affecting his game.

And if the Rangers decide to let their mercurial superstar leave, the two players Law ranks above him – Zach Greinke and BJ Upton – could be attractive targets for a Texas franchise that would have some cash to spend.

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