Texas Rangers focus on Greinke, Hamilton at winter meetings

12/01/2012 11:50 PM

03/24/2013 1:08 AM

So far this off-season, the Texas Rangers have acquired a catcher and three relievers.

But Konrad Schmidt, Tommy Hottovy, Jake Brigham and Cory Burns aren't exactly the kind of players who will carry the Rangers back to the top of the American League West in 2013.

Josh Hamilton, Zack Greinke and Mike Napoli are more likely to do that. Those three are on the Rangers' radar, and have been since free agency opened when the World Series ended in late October.

Though there are no guarantees that they will be with the Rangers when spring training starts in February, they will be prominently featured this week in Jon Daniels' war room at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville at the annual winter meetings.

If these meetings are anything like the 2011 edition in Dallas, business is about to pick up.

"I think things take a little while to develop," Daniels, the Rangers' general manager, said. "That's the nature of the business. I can't put my finger on why. My expectation is the next 10 days to two weeks we'll see considerably more business done."

The Rangers have gone through multiple scenarios, including one in which they re-sign Hamilton and add Greinke. They are the top two free agents this off-season, and each could fetch a contract worth $25 million a year.

Another possibility is that the Rangers try to woo Hamilton with a higher annual average salary over a shorter term than the best offer he receives elsewhere.

Greinke could land the richest deal ever for a starting pitcher, and the Rangers believe their top competition will come from the two teams in Los Angeles, the Dodgers and the Angels.

But a catcher and relief help remain top priorities for the Rangers. The Rangers are now in the market for two catchers after making Geovany Soto a free agent Friday night by not tendering him a contract for 2013.

The catching market had its first movement Thursday as Russell Martin signed a two-year, $17 million contract with Pittsburgh. Napoli and A.J. Pierzynski are the top remaining free agents.

Napoli, who met with the Rangers on Wednesday, is seeking a four-year contract, as was Martin.

"It's a little bit a game of musical chairs," Daniels said of the catching market. "There's limited supply this year, and we're still looking at our options there."

Daniels has traditionally been hesitant to give relievers multiyear contracts, though he yielded last year as Joe Nathan landed a two-year contract.

With Mike Adams and Koji Uehara free agents and Alexi Ogando in the starting rotation, the Rangers have three key late-inning arms to replace.

Daniels might have to bend again. Then again, he believes the players they have now are capable enough to compete next season.

But the roster is a work in progress, and the 2013 Rangers could start to take shape this week at the winter meetings.

"We've looked at a variety of different things to improve the club," Daniels said. "Some of them are relatively minor. Some of them involve giving some of our young guys a chance. Some of them are bigger moves.

"We're not looking to turn it over. We've got a good club. We've got a good core. We like our team. We also have some opportunities to upgrade, and we're trying to do that."

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

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