Josh Hamilton should be the most coveted free agent on the market during the 2013 offseason. While the Texas Rangers will certainly be doing everything in their power to try to bring him back, it may not be enough if another big market team decides that they are essentially going to give Hamilton a blank check.
Rival executives don't agree on how much Hamilton will make, but one thing is for certain: Hamilton will be getting paid a lot of money. According to John Heyman of CBS Sports, one executive sees Hamilton getting $100 million over five years, while another sees him getting as much as $140 million over the same time-frame.
While the Rangers can afford to spend this money, they may have more efficient ways to dole out as much as $28 million a year this offseason. There are a number of other talented players on the market that the Rangers could sign for much less.
Ortiz is making $14.5 million this season and he could be looking for approximately the same amount per year over a two-year deal. This seems like a fairly reasonable contract based on his level of production in the past few seasons.
Although Hamilton is both younger than Ortiz and plays a premium position, having Ortiz come in as his replacement in the Rangers' lineup may not be a bad idea. Hamilton is one of the top players in all of baseball, but Ortiz's production level is actually not that far behind.
So far this season, Ortiz actually has a higher wOBA (.422 to .389) and a higher wRC+ (166 to 142) than Hamiltion (h/t FanGraphs). This certainly shows that Ortiz would be a viable replacement if the Rangers were to lose out on Hamilton.
Can David Ortiz replace Josh Hamilton in the Rangers' linuep?
One important thing to consider is that the Rangers would need to make re-signing Mike Napoli a priority if they let Hamilton go. They cannot let two big bats leave their lineup this offseason.
It is also necessary to consider what the Rangers would do with the extra money that they did not spend on Hamilton. They could look to go after a starting pitcher to round out their staff.
They could go after Zack Greinke, whose value has likely dropped a bit given his poor performance since he was traded to the Los Angeles Angels. Along with signing Ortiz, this would require the Rangers to spend a bit more money than they would save by letting Hamilton go, but it would certainly be worth it as the Rangers would have a front line starter locked up for years.
Edwin Jackson and Brandon McCarthy are less expensive options that the Rangers could also pursue with their available cash.
There is also the question of what the Rangers' lineup would look like if they signed Ortiz and let Hamilton go.
The Rangers infield should remain the same as it was last season, but their outfield would need to be reworked. Nelson Cruz will be a starter somewhere in the Rangers' outfield in 2013.
Mike Olt has seen some time in the outfield this year and he could end up being a starter there if the Rangers let Hamilton go. Texas could also go with incumbent starter David Murphy.
However, there is also a much more interesting option for the Rangers in right field. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has noted that the Rangers could go after Justin Upton this winter. This could mean that the Rangers deal Elvis Andrus and let Jurickson Profar play shortstop in the majors next year.
Center field would be a question for the Rangers, however, they have many ways to fill it. Craig Gentry is an option for the spot as is Leonys Martin. Texas also has Julio Borbon, their starting center fielder from 2010 in Triple-A.
Based on this picture, it is clear that the Rangers will be able to field a very talented outfield even if Josh Hamilton is not on their roster in 2013.
While David Ortiz cannot replace Josh Hamilton, he could be an outstanding option if the Rangers make a few other moves this offseason.