Rangers upbeat about Hamilton

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Two months ago, when the Texas Rangers' season came to a complete and premature end, Josh Hamilton wasn't wanted by some in the organization and many in the fan base.

The way his season ended, with his eyes twitching and his bat and glove coming up empty, caused some fairly deep wounds that time apparently has healed.

The Rangers' optimism that Hamilton will stay with the team reached an off-season high Tuesday during the second day of the annual winter meetings.

All those reports that they were closing in on a deal, though, were premature, according to Jon Daniels. The Rangers' general manager had yet to meet this week with Hamilton or his agent, Mike Moye, as of 6:30 Tuesday night.

Hamilton left town, according to his Twitter account, on Tuesday night. But the club's big guns are on hand for a meeting with Moye, which Daniels said could have taken place later Tuesday or at some point today.

"I haven't had any dialogue with Mike," Daniels said. "I keep reading that we've got a deal done. I keep asking the guys in the room, 'Who snuck out and did it?'

"Nothing's changed. It's really where it's been all winter. Josh is going through his process, and we're maintaining dialogue and maintaining interest."

The Rangers weren't just standing idly by Tuesday. They completed a two-year, $8 million deal with right-handed reliever Joakim Soria that includes a team option for 2015.

Soria, who underwent Tommy John elbow surgery in April, passed his physical in Arlington with flying colors, but Daniels said that a May return might be too aggressive.

"I'm pretty far in my rehab," said Soria, who has thrown up to 105 feet. "All the people believe, and I believe, I'm going to be ready by the end of May. I'm feeling good so far."

The Rangers also continued their pursuit of a starting pitcher, and remain one of three perceived front-runners for right-hander Zack Greinke.

Daniels said that they also are seeking a trade partner for a starting pitcher, and Tampa Bay could emerge as one if the Rays are serious about trading right-handed workhorse James Shields.

But no progress has been made in finding a catcher to pair with Geovany Soto, said Daniels, much like nothing is new with a Hamilton deal.

However, the only thing that has changed in regard to Hamilton was optimism that he would re-sign.

There is a prevailing thought that if the best offer Hamilton can get from another club is five years, the Rangers can lure him back with a high average annual salary over a shorter team.

Manny Ramirez has collected the all-time highest annual average salary for an outfielder at $22.5 million, and the Rangers could offer Hamilton as much as $25 million to $27 million over a three- or four-year deal with a vesting option.

Daniels was joined in his suite at the Gaylord Opryland by Dallas billionaire Ray Davis, one of the Rangers' two principal owners, as well as minority owner Neil Leibman and team president Nolan Ryan.

But, after Daniels' daily briefing Tuesday evening, no contract with Hamilton was in the works and certainly not about to be signed.

"That's fair to say," Daniels said. "We left it as he was going to test the market. Once he had an idea of what was out there, then we would talk. We haven't had that conversation yet."

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

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