SAN ANTONIO - This week, all the bigwigs of Major League Baseball come together for the annual winter meetings.
The winter meetings are generally the time all the big offseason trades and free agent signings occur, and the Texas Rangers look to be big-time players this year.
The Rangers do intend on spending some money, possibly on pitching, but they could also lose their MVP player, Josh Hamilton. Hamilton is a free agent, and is hoping to cash in on his incredible talents.
The Rangers, and many other teams, have a ton of interest in signing Hamilton, but Hamilton is the most intriguing free agent of any sport in recent memory. Hamilton's battles with drugs and alcohol are well-documented, meaning teams still have a small fear of dumping a truckload of money and a long-term contract in front of Hamilton's house.
As of Dec. 6, it's probably a 50/50 chance Hamilton resigns with Texas.
So if someone else does roll the dice on Josh, this leaves a big hole in the Rangers lineup and outfield. Do the Rangers try to fill it in free agency, or perhaps within their own organization?
The Rangers currently have two of the best minor league prospects in the majors, infielder Jurickson Profar and slugger Mike Olt. The Rangers haven't said for sure what their 2013 plans for those two are, but they do give the Rangers leverage, trade bait, and a lot of mystery for their fans.
Do the Rangers let Hamilton walk, and add both these youngsters in the lineup? And where do these two fit into the lineup? Do the Rangers trade short stop Elvis Andrus or second basemen Ian Kinsler to make room for Profar? Does Kinsler move to the outfield, replacing Josh? Does long-time team captain Michael Young even have a place on the Rangers any more? Rumors are strong that Young will be traded to the Phillies. Are the Rangers targeting an outfielder, or perhaps pitching?
Pitching does seem to be a need for the Rangers, but it's not certain if the Rangers are willing to drop serious money on a top-end pitcher, and also on Josh Hamilton. The Rangers could trade for a pitcher, and still offer Hamilton a long-term deal. But do the Rangers have any real desire to resign the troubled outfielder?
As you can tell, the Texas Rangers front office has a ton of chips to play in the winter meeting poker game, but the big question is what the main goal is? Who will get traded? Will we spend serious coin this offseason, or do the Rangers build from within?
General Manager Jon Daniels and owner/President Nolan Ryan have done a great job building the Rangers, but this offseason could write their legacy, and the long-term future of the Texas Rangers.
John Dyer is a sports blogger for KSAT.com. He also owns a sports website, Texas Sports Junkie.
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