MLB Free Agency: 10 Potential Replacements If Josh Hamilton Leaves Texas Rangers

Lance ReavesContributor IIIAugust 18, 2012

MLB Free Agency: 10 Potential Replacements If Josh Hamilton Leaves Texas Rangers

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    Okay, so technically it's going to be really hard for any one player to "replace" Josh Hamilton. Talk all you want about his off-the-field problems or aggressiveness at the plate, when it's all said and done, he has been one of the best players in baseball over the last five years.

    There is a real chance that he leaves when this season is over and calls a new ballpark home in 2013. If that happens, someone will have to run to his old position in the outfield and take his spot in the lineup. 

    Here are 10 potential players who the Texas Rangers might target for this job.

Leonys Martin

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    Martin is the standout candidate to replace Hamilton if the Rangers decide to stay in-house.

    The front office showed a lot of faith in the Cuban outfielder when they gave him a $15 million contract in 2011. The 24-year-old has plenty of skills that can make him a solid contributor in the Texas lineup for years to come.

    He has had limited experience in the majors so far, but this season he has crushed the ball in the minor leagues. Martin is hitting .362 with a .429 OBP and a 1.046 OPS for the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate. 

B.J. Upton

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    Upton has been in the big leagues so long that sometimes it’s easy to forget that he is only 27. His name has come up in trade rumors the last couple years, but he remained in Tampa Bay and is set to hit the free-agent market in 2013.

    The center fielder's talent has never really been questioned. He can steal 40 bases, hit 20 homers and play Gold Glove defense when he wants to.

    B.J. has also been the focus of some controversy the last few years, including a scuffle in the dugout with teammate Evan Longoria.

    This might raise a red flag for a Rangers’ team that has built their success on cohesiveness and team chemistry.

Michael Bourn

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    Bourn is not a player who is going to produce the type of numbers Josh Hamilton does in the home run and RBI departments.

    This center fielder bats at the top of the lineup and generates runs in other ways. His speed in particular is his biggest strength. Bourne has stolen over 60 bases twice the last three years, and the one year he didn’t, he stole 52.

    He is a consistent hitter with a solid OBP, so he generally gives himself plenty of chances to annoy pitchers on the bases.

    The 29-year-old is a two-time Gold Glove winner as well.  

Shane Victorino

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    Victorino will join Upton and Bourn as one of the top center fielders on the market this offseason.

    He apparently wanted a five-year contract extension from the Phillies before the season started. The two sides couldn’t come to an agreement and Victorino was shipped to the Dodgers at the deadline.

    Shane is a very good leadoff hitter and a top centerfielder, winning three straight Gold Gloves from 2008 to 2010.

    However, if the Rangers are willing to give a five-year deal to a soon-to-be 32-year-old, it will most likely be given to Hamilton.

Delmon Young

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    Young is another guy who is still relatively young despite playing in his seventh big league season. The 26-year-old was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 amateur draft.

    Potential is not the problem. He finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2007. He had his best season in 2010 for Minnesota, hitting .298 with 21 homers and 112 RBI. 

    Unfortunately, Young comes with his fair share of baggage. If he signs with the Rangers this offseason, it will be his fourth team in eight seasons. Most recently, he was arrested this past April for aggravated harassment.

    The Rangers have strong leadership in the locker room, so perhaps that can help.

Nick Swisher

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    No one seems to enjoy being a Yankee more than Swisher, but right now his team’s front office is in a tough spot. Multiple-time All-Stars Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson also need new contracts, which might make Swisher expendable.

    The 31-year-old won’t likely win many MVPs, but he is a versatile switch-hitter who plays hard every game.

    The affable Swisher would also fit in well with the Rangers’ loose clubhouse atmosphere.  

Cody Ross

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    Ross is somewhat of a journeyman. He has played for six teams since his debut in 2003. He has never made an All-Star team, and to this point his career highlights are an NLCS MVP and a world championship with the Giants

    The 31-year-old signed a small contract with Boston and is having a productive season (.276/18/60).

    He is no Josh Hamilton, few players are, so he won’t likely command a huge contract. If the Rangers feel he can replicate the season he is having for the Red Sox this year, he could be a good signing that still leaves the team with money to improve the club in other areas.

Curtis Granderson

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    Granderson has a club option with the Yankees for 2013 that they will most likely pick up. In the case that this doesn’t happen, he will hit the free-agent market this year.

    The 31-year-old has had three very productive seasons in the Bronx. He hasn’t hit for a high average, but if anyone can replace the power and run production of Hamilton, it’s Granderson. His 96 home runs and counting during the last three years would look real good in Arlington with that jet stream in right field.

    He is also durable, playing in at least 156 games four times the last six seasons.

Justin Upton

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    The Rangers can also attempt to replace Hamilton via trade, which wouldn’t cost money but instead some of their prized prospects.

    Justin Upton’s name came up in the crazy swirl of trade rumors at the deadline, but Texas didn't want to lose their top prospects at the time.

    The Diamondback’s outfielder is only 24. He has plenty of experience and is signed through 2015.  

    Should Hamilton leave, Upton provides an alternative with a big upside. He has proven power (31 HR in 2011) and speed (20-plus stolen bases in 2009 and 2011). He also brings an injection of youth to an aging core of position players in Texas.

    He won’t be cheap, but the Rangers have the farm system to make the deal if they so choose.

Carlos Gonzalez

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    Another name to keep an eye on for a possible trade is Carlos Gonzalez. The Rangers apparently showed some interest in him earlier this year.

    The 26-year-old is one of the emerging stars in baseball. He won the batting title in 2010, finishing that season with .336/34/117 and 26 stolen bases. Add a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger to his resume as well.

    He signed a seven-year, $80.5 million contract last year, so Colorado obviously has some plans for him. However, the Rockies could decide to move him to improve their pitching, which currently ranks last in all of baseball in team ERA.

    It’s worth noting that the Rangers have plenty of good arms in their farm system.

    The Rockies don’t seem ready to trade their star outfielder just yet. The minute that changes, expect the Rangers to be one the first teams on the phone with Colorado, especially if Hamilton leaves.