Everyone at Texas Rangers headquarters knew that Josh Hamilton and several of his 2012 teammates would become free agents this off-season, but now it's official.The end of the World Series on Sunday night brought with it the beginning of free agency. Hamilton and six other Rangers can negotiate with all 30 teams, though they can sign only with the Rangers until 10:59 p.m. Friday.The Rangers have decisions to make ahead of whether to re-sign their free agents. First up is whether to make a qualifying offer of one year at $13.3 million, a figure negotiated under the collective bargaining agreement.Hamilton is likely to receive one, and promptly turn it down before the Nov. 9 deadline, so that the Rangers can assure themselves of draft-pick compensation should he sign elsewhere.But the Rangers have a more difficult decision with catcher Mike Napoli, who passed on the Rangers' offer of three years and $38 million last winter.The others eligible for an offer won't get one because $13.3 million is far more than they would receive on the open market.Joining Hamilton and Napoli as free agents are right-handers Ryan Dempster, Mike Adams, Mark Lowe, Roy Oswalt and Koji Uehara. Scott Feldman is expected to join the group after the Rangers buy out the $9.25 million option year for $600,000.Colby Lewis was listed as a free agent, but only because the one-year contract he agreed to in September was submitted Monday for approval by Major League Baseball.Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760Twitter:@JeffWilson_FWST
Key MLB free agents
The end of the World Series on Sunday made 137 players free agents. Forty-one others, including starting pitchers Dan Haren and Jake Peavy, can be free agents if options on their contracts aren't picked up.
Josh Hamilton, OF: The best player on the market, but his past and injury history could temper the offers he is to receive.
Zack Greinke, RHP: The former Cy Young winner is the top pitcher on the market. The Rangers could be bidders.
Anibal Sanchez, RHP: He showed he can be an effective pitcher in the American League, and the postseason.
Michael Bourn, CF: A speedy, left-handed-hitting leadoff man who has two Gold Gloves on his mantle.
Russell Martin, C: Along with Mike Napoli and A.J. Pierzynski, Martin tops the class of free-agent catchers.
Nick Swisher, OF: Big on-base percentage with decent pop. A switch-hitter, Swisher can also log playing time at first base.
Joel Peralta, RHP: This guy doesn't need pine tar, and the Rangers will need set-up men in their bullpen.
Jeremy Affeldt, LHP: How much did his postseason performance for San Francisco push his price tag?