It seemed for a while now that Josh Hamilton was destined to re-sign with the Texas Rangers. Yeah, the Mariners were after him, but given that there were reports that Hamilton would allow the Rangers match any competing offer, it seemed very unlikely that he would bolt to Seattle.
It turned out that a different division rival had their eye on Hamilton, and apparently the Rangers didn't have a chance to match their deal. About five minutes after the first reports leaked onto Twitter, the deal was done.
But what this have to do with the Indians? Now that Hamilton not only slipped through the Rangers' fingers, but also went to a division rival, they'll be looking at the remaining outfield free agents to respond at least somewhat. They could also explore the trade route (Justin Upton specifically), but usually free agency is the preferred method of adding talent assuming you have the cash. That means Nick Swisher's agent will be getting a call, and the official bidding can start. Now that Hamilton is out of the picture, Swisher will be getting the full attention of clubs looking for help in the outfield; he'll be visiting several clubs next week, including presumably the Indians.
Until now, it seemed that the Indians were in the lead or at the very least within striking distance of winning the bidding for Swisher. The Red Sox for a time were mentioned in conjunction with him, but have apparently dropped out, signing pitcher Ryan Dempster instead. Seattle seemed to be the Indians' main competition. Now Texas will probably join the bidding, and that's bad for Indians, because not only will the Rangers bring more money to the table, but also a better chance of winning right away. Swisher may be from Ohio, but as we've seen in the recent past, where you grew up only goes so far when it comes to free agency.
Our best hope is for the Rangers to prefer Michael Bourn, who is a center fielder by trade, to Swisher, who is a corner outfielder only.