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December 05, 2012

Another day, another round of Rangers rumors

The Star-Telegram's morning has started with a nice run around the Opryland complex, where Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski was spotted also pounding the pavement. The 28:27 break over 3.70 miles was only a brief relief from the Twitter pounding involving the Rangers.

The Josh Hamilton talks that were reportedly so hot and heavy Tuesday afternoon, and then thrown under a cold shower by general manager Jon Daniels, are now "on hold," according to some reports. The Rangers' focus is now on Zack Greinke more than it is Hamilton ... or a trade for starting pitcher James Shields or outfielder Justin Upton for Elvis Andrus, even though Daniels said that he feels "very strongly" that Andrus will be on the Rangers' Opening Day roster.

Here's what the Star-Telegram has unearthed: The Rangers had a shorter-than-normal night before being dismissed from Daniels' war room. The night, which included club brass escaping for the affilliates' dinner, was labeled as "quiet." The Rangers were still waiting for Hamilton's camp to come to them with his sense of the market.

If Hamilton isn't re-signed, there is a serious chance that the outfield of David Murphy, Leonys Martin/Craig Gentry, and Nelson Cruz will start on Opening Day. Nick Swisher's price tag has been deemed too high, and the Upton trade won't happen if Andrus is involved. Reports of a multi-team trade in which the Rangers get Upton while Arizona gets a shortstop not named Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar have logic behind them but are awfully complicated to pull off.

Swisher, even if he's a little pricey, would make sense for the Rangers because he could replace free-agent-to-be Cruz in 2014 or move to first base, which is unsettled in Arlington. His numbers the past few years show quality production.

As for Greinke, Daniels has been in contact with agent Casey Close, but according to a baseball source as of dinnertime Tuesday, no team has submitted an offer. The Dodgers are expected to open Magic Johnson's checkbook and give Greinke the highest offer, which has tempered the Rangers' enthusiasm about their chances of adding the former Cy Young winner.

The Rangers are still mulling over a catching market that includes A.J. Pierzynski, Miguel Olivo and local boy Kelly Shoppach. There continues to be a sense that at some point Toronto will try to unload one of its four catchers on the 40-man roster, and the Rangers have nothing but praise for Blue Jays top prospect Trave d'Arnaud. Even though he's coming off of knee surgery, he won't come cheapily or easily.

As for relief help, the Rangers can lean on recent off-season history. Bullpen pieces tend to come more easily and more affordably as the off-season stretches toward spring training. The Rangers struck quickly on Joakim Soria, but could be in a holding pattern for others unless something falls in their lap.

Koji Uehara is a possibility, even for just one year, but the right-hander is telling teams that he wants a defined role before picking his next employer. The Rangers, who won't have Soria until late May and then are expecting to have Neftali Feliz in July or August, can't define a permanent role for Uehara.

-- Jeff Wilson


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