There's more to this Rangers offseason than just the Josh Hamilton conundrum.
It will probably be hard to realize it for the next few weeks and months until one side or the other puts its cards on the table instead of continuing this silly dance of hints when no one really seems to want to continue the relationship. Rest assured, though, there's plenty of other things that will impact the Rangers' chances of improving on 2012.
One of them will be the way they decide to outfit the bullpen. Things worked out pretty well in the relief corps this season with Joe Nathan showing he still had gas in the tank and a deep crew of pitchers getting the job done in front of him. That will be the idea again next year, but we don't yet know the identities of those pitchers.
Alexi Ogando and Robbie Ross will definitely be back, although it's much too soon to say that either one of them will definitely be working out of the pen again this season. Ogando has started in the past and could be called on to fill a need if the Rangers strike out in attempts to fill out their rotation. Ross was exclusively a starter in the minors and the team might want to see if he has any value in that role before sticking him back in a spot they know he can handle.
Beyond that, though, we know nothing. Scott Feldman, Roy Oswalt and Mark Lowe seem unlikely to return after failing to set the world on fire. Koji Uehara and Mike Adams are both free agents whose performance might price them out of Texas.
Uehara was really good down the stretch, which is a pretty good time to be at your best as an impending free agent. Teams obviously know that Uehara's overall performance wasn't quite as good, but he's the kind of experienced arm that always draws suitors on the open market and the Rangers might choose to spend their bucks elsewhere.
The same is true of Adams, who said this week that this is nothing but a business decision for him. He's going to the place that gives him the best offer and that's likely to mean a multi-year deal, even coming off an injury, because baseball general managers can't seem to get over the fact that they rarely ever pay off.
On a one-year deal, paying Adams a handsome amount makes sense. It's a bet on his track record as well as the kind of inflated salary good teams sometimes accept as part of the price you pay to remain competitive. And Adams would likely have trade value if things didn't work out next season so you'd have an out.
Good personnel work can find you a better alternative to a two-year deal, though. You might be able to sign two veterans for what Adams cost while also moving Tanner Scheppers or another young pitcher into the mix. It might take a while to sort out roles, but you know who's closing so that's not the biggest deal in the world.
Whatever happens with Adams, the Rangers are going to be spelling relief a little bit differently next season.