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December 06, 2012

Rangers at center as end of winter meetings nears

Only the Rule 5 draft is keeping baseball executives at the annual baseball meetings Thursday morning. Most key Rangers officials are scheduled to be headed back to Texas by early afternoon. Team president Nolan Ryan had a morning flight, and manager Ron Washington was scheduled for a lunchtime departure to New Orleans.

But travel schedules can be changed, pending the advancement of trade talks or negotiations with free agents. The Rangers appear to be holding steady with Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke, but reportedly are locked in trade discussions involving Justin Upton and Michael Young.

Club officials don't let much -- if anything -- leave the war room, and that includes themselves. Jon Daniels and his closest assistants snuck out early this morning and were seen by some media members for the first time all week. They've been busy.

The Star-Telegram is reporting that the Upton talks involve three teams, while one national reporter relentlessly insists that four are involved. The fourth, according to a report, is Seattle. Sources, though, have said that's not the case.

Speaking of Seattle, the Seattle Times reported that the Mariners are "very close" to signing Josh Hamilton. It all depends on what the Rangers decide to do with Zack Greinke and Upton, and if they sign the right-hander, they wouldn't have the money for both Greinke and Hamilton. Of course, Rangers team president Nolan Ryan said that the Rangers do have a chance to sign both, if the deep-pocketed Bob Simpson and Ray Davis sign off on it.

It's also important to keep in mind the upcoming new TV contract. The Rangers have already essentially borrowed against that with Adrian Beltre and Yu Darvish, but the deal that a source said is worth $3.3 billion over 20 years would allow for the Rangers to make another off-season splash.

Here's something else: Whether Young comes off the books before 2013 or after it, the Rangers will have additional money to play with. He would have to make a trade happen by waiving his 10-5 rights. It would appear to be the smart career move, with Jurickson Profar all but being annointed as a regular player in 2013. That would shove Ian Kinsler to first base and leave Young and Mitch Moreland to split DH at-bats and play off the bench.

But, as one baseball official noted, the Rangers have so many possibilities that it's possible Young plays anywhere from zero to 155 games for them in 2013.

Now, off the the Rule 5 draft.

-- Jeff Wilson

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