Texas Rangers hope hard work at winter meetings pays off

NASHVILLE -- Club executives who aren't dragging after three-plus days at the winter meetings are either jacked up on Mountain Dew or just not working as hard as their peers from other teams.

One look at a worn-down Jon Daniels on Thursday afternoon suggested that the general manager and his staff left no stone unturned this week in the Texas Rangers' war room at the Gaylord Opryland.

That will have to serve as proof of a job well done after a grand news conference to announce the signing of a marquis free agent or a multi-team trade never materialized.

But as Daniels hopped on a plane bound for Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, he did so with a clearer idea of what he wants the 2013 Rangers to look like and the groundwork is in place to get what he envisions.

The build time, though, remains a mystery, and as always, a baseball off-season comes with no guarantees.

At the very least, Daniels seemed confident that the pieces he covets most, including Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke, are within reach this winter.

"I feel like we have a better sense of what's real and what's not," Daniels said.

"We have an idea of what we want it to look like. There are a couple big decisions that are going to impact the direction. We've narrowed it down, but there are still a couple ways we can go."

Daniels plans to speak to agent Mike Moye either today or Saturday to see if Hamilton finally has a feel for his market. The Rangers appear to be the front-runner after multiple teams filled their outfield needs this week.

Seattle continues to be in the mix, but club president Chuck Armstrong denied a report that the Mariners were "very close" to a deal. So far, according to another report, Seattle has spoken to Hamilton about a three-year contract in the $60-$75 million range.

That would fall well short of Hamilton's desired deal and well within the Rangers' comfort level.

Greinke is still out there, too, and the Twitter chatter over the final 24 hours of the meetings had the Rangers moving past the two Los Angeles teams as the front-runners to land the former Cy Young winner.

His contract could be more in line with Matt Cain's six-year, $127.5 million contract than a record deal for a starting pitcher.

A trade for R.A. Dickey, the reigning National League Cy Young winner, is one of the Rangers' fallback plans if they miss on Greinke.

"There are things that we're involved in that takes two parties to get it done," Daniels said. "We're dealing with a select number of clubs and select number of free agents."

A multi-team trade between the Rangers, Arizona and at least one other club that would bring outfielder Justin Upton to Texas will not be completed in the next 48 hours, Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers said.

He said that the club is in no rush to make a deal with Upton, and might wait until Hamilton or Greinke signs before intensifying his end of the trade talks.

Word that Seattle had entered the fray as a fourth club was refuted by two major league sources. Daniels said that there wasn't any deal that got to the point that he ordered a press release to be written.

"It hasn't gotten to the point where something had fallen through that I thought was going to get done," Daniels said. "We want to make deals. We don't want to sit here every day and think about the idea of making deals. It just hasn't happened yet."

Daniels declined to comment on the status of a Michael Young trade with Philadelphia, should Young agree to waive his 10-5 rights that allow him to veto any trade.

Young was mulling his options, according to a major league source.

Young, a father of three young boys -- ages 7, 3 and 3 months -- wants to be with them and his wife in Dallas. He also recently moved his parents to Texas from California.

A trade, though, would make him the starting third baseman for the Phillies, a contender in the National League East and guarantee him playing time that he might not get with the Rangers if Jurickson Profar becomes the second baseman and Ian Kinsler is moved to first.

The trade would also help Young, the Rangers' all-time hits leader, extend his career beyond the terms of a five-year, $80 million deal that expires after next season.

But with the Rangers facing multiple off-season scenarios, one baseball executive said that Young could play anywhere from zero to 155 games for the Rangers this season.

The Young situation could be resolved before any of the others facing the Rangers. Daniels wants to know all the answers to the Rangers' current dealings.

He and his staff did plenty of work this week at the winter meetings. But more work and more waiting is ahead.

"We've made proposals. We've been engaged. It's not talk. We're trying to get something done," Daniels said.

"I would have guessed something would have happened here, and I would have been wrong. We had an idea of what we wanted to do. We didn't push anything across the finish line, but I think we're moving in that direction."

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram