I've been thinking to myself that I might as well go and blow the place up if I'm not going to be dialed in over the next three days, and, to that end, this is a good time to mention that there will be full content through at least the next three days, along with daily all-day winter meetings chats for the masses ... so be apprised of that as I play a little bit of weekend catch-up:
● I suppose the best way to launch any kind of rumor-oriented post is to touch upon the most eye-grabbing rumor first, and, to that end, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi report on the eve of the winter meetings that Derek Holland "could become available" in a trade -- but only if the Rangers can first find another starting pitcher to plug into the starting rotation. Under one possible scenario they've drawn up, Texas pushes to sign Zack Greinke, and subsequently moves Holland and Mike Olt to Arizona for Justin Upton, which would leave the Rangers with a starting rotation of Greinke, Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando, and Mystery Pitcher X (likely Martin Perez for the time being), and a starting outfield comprised of Upton and some combination of Leonys Martin, Craig Gentry, Nelson Cruz, and David Murphy.
This is a surprising rumor to the extent that Holland is a cost-controlled, talented left-hander just one season removed from a very stout 2011 campaign ... but, in another respect, it's really not all that surprising, given that the Rangers have reportedly attempted to move Holland on multiple occasions over the last few years in deals for pitching (Cliff Lee, Zack Greinke, Matt Garza, et AL.), and given that Holland has been a frustrating quantity who went backwards for the better part of the 2012 season. It's hard for me to gauge the wisdom behind parting ways with Holland -- who's locked in through 2016 at just $26 million total, plus option years for 2017-18 -- without having a better grasp on what he could bring back or who would be replacing him, and, as such, I guess the best thing I can say about this is that I'm open to and interested in seeing if this plan will materialize.
I have some trouble believing that Upton is attainable using only Holland and Olt as trade bait, though. That feels like a trade that would have already happened if it were actually within the realm of possibility as constructed.
● CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes that the Josh Hamilton market is the "mystery of the winter," as the Orioles are quietly admitting that they likely won't be able to make a serious play for Hamilton, and no other serious suitors are known to have stepped up to the plate as of yet. Hamilton's representative, Mike Moye, is refusing to drop any hints or comments for public consumption, and the perception around the game seems to be that Hamilton's market is a black box with no clearly probable outcome. MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan remarks that Hamilton was spotted in Nashville earlier today, and says that many baseball officials believe he will ultimately end up back in Texas. So it goes ...
One thing that Heyman seems to hint at -- and that has also been documented in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram -- is the cooling of frustrations and tempers within the room with regard to Hamilton. There was an oft-quoted comment made by a Rangers official soon after their late-season collapse (and Hamilton's horrific finish) about the team not wanting him back at any price, and the undercurrent of public disdain for a possible Hamilton return seemed to grow stronger once word came down that he was seeking a seven-year, $175 million contract.
Since that point, there has been some talk of cooler heads settling in on the matter of Hamilton's possible return, and Heyman notes that while the Rangers remain frustrated by Hamilton's rash of injuries in 2011 (and, presumably, the inconsistency), they recognize just how much offensive clout he brings to the table, and assuredly do, at some level, want him back. What's the level? I can't imagine it extends more than a skosh past $100 million, and the problem is that even if cooler heads are prevailing on the matter, they're still faced with the same quandary that is his perilous long-term projection and the above-average risk that something -- be it physical or mental -- strips away meaningful chunks of value within the first year or two of his next contract. It's a scary proposition.
But if Hamilton does end up coming back on some type of commitment, I'll get why it's happening, and I'll get why the Rangers pulled the trigger. Yes, it's a scary proposition, but Hamilton at his best is a Cooperstown-level wrecking ball, and if they do pull that trigger, it's going to signal objective confidence on the part of the organization that there's enough of Hamilton's best left to justify what would be an enormous commitment. I'm by no means a fan of every move that the club makes, but I'm prepared to defer to the club's better judgment when it comes to a situation with as many unknowns and opaque variables as the Hamilton situation ... unless they actually do give him $175 million.
● Since we last talked last week, purported Rangers target Russell Martin landed with the Pirates on a two-year, $17 million deal (Jon Heyman reports that Texas clocked in at two years and $13 million, which Martin said "wasn't even close"), and Geovany Soto was non-tendered, effectively leaving the Rangers catcher-less while reducing the pool of open-market options. Meanwhile, Mike Napoli still appears to be weighing his options after completing the latest leg of his nationwide tour this past week, and indications are that he's holding out for a four-year offer, while the Rangers continue to play the wait-and-see game in the hopes that he'll cut his demands back to three years.
And as we all know, there's only one catcher out there who can bring all of the tools and skill and aplomb to the table that the Rangers sorely lack behind the plate right now ...
● T.R. Sullivan reported this morning that the Rangers are interested in trading for R.A. Dickey. I haven't decided what to do with that information. In theory, the Rangers should be interested in trading for anyone at any time provided that their target at least somewhat addresses an area of identified present or future need, so that drives the quantity of players that they're "interested in" at any given time well into the triple digits. From that standpoint, I can't muster much interest in a rumor shrouded by so much ambiguity. On the other hand, though, Dickey has a newly minted Cy Young Award on his mantle and fairly attractive performance over his last three years, and the Rangers need starting pitching, so yeah, I can muster up some interest on the basis of those facts.
Two things do immediately stand out in my mind with respect to this Dickey-to-Texas notion: first, if Dickey gets moved, he'll be getting moved with just one year of club control at the height of his possible trade value arc (career-best season, CYA hardware, and all of that). I'm cautiously optimistic that he could function as a legitimate rotation asset in Texas, but I'm not sure that a full-scope cost-benefit analysis of a Dickey-to-Texas deal would treat the Rangers very kindly.
And second, I still can't decide what I'm supposed to think of Dickey from a going-forward standpoint; a snapshot view of his performance over the last three years suggests that another 3-3.5 win season is in his immediate future, but he's such a completely unique player within the context of major league history that it's damn near impossible to ascertain when he'll begin to face a breakdown in performance due to age or general wear and tear. I certainly get the "interest" on the part of the Rangers, and I'm fascinated in seeing where this goes because, hey, we all love a good narrative (and it's been a lot of fun watching Dickey flourish into a star), but I can't help but feel like Dickey is less of a certain thing than what you'd usually assume the reigning CYA winner to be.