I don't really know if I'm taking the right approach to winter meetings coverage by addressing rumors and news one post at a time (bearing in mind that I'm "covering" the winter meetings from hundreds of miles away, but there's a new item out there this evening that has piqued my curiosity, and I think it merits at least a bit of discussion.
According to two separate reports from Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News this afternoon/evening, the Rangers are speculated to have offered Josh Hamilton a four-year contract worth more than $100 million today, and, per one source, are attempting to "surround" Hamilton in a concerted effort to nail down an agreement. In addition, the thinking appears to be that Hamilton and the Rangers are deep enough into negotiations that Texas has started to pursue a multi-team deal -- possibly with 3-4 teams involved -- that would bring James Shields, the club's reported No. 2 pitching target behind Zack Greinke, into the fold for an unspecified return.
It's difficult to supply much in the way of insight on this Shields-to-Texas notion without knowing (a) who the other teams involved might be or (b) what the Rangers might have to give up in order to swing a deal. I'm also highly skeptical of this word that the trade proposal may have a multi-team structure, given what we know about the complexity of such deals, the difficulty of satisfying every involved trade party, and the rarity of such convoluted deals actually coming to fruition.
What's not difficult is understanding why Shields is attractive to Texas -- yes, he's only under club control for two more seasons (two club option years for 2013-14 at $9 million and $12 million, respectively), and yes, those will be his age 31-32 seasons, but he's a 220-plus-inning workhorse who profiles nicely in the role of a No. 2-3 starter on a first-division team. He doesn't operate within an elite, No. 1-caliber tier such as Zack Greinke does, but he's a good starting pitcher with quality year-over-year peripherals, and his contractual situation is attractive for a team that wants to win now (which, I think, the Hamilton signing would clearly signal) without tying up an excess of future payroll, because he's not locked into a long-term, high-AAV contract like Greinke eventually will be.
If the Rangers did manage to acquire both Hamilton and Shields in one fell swoop, their projected 2013 salary obligations (including arbitration projections) would soar from approximately $110 million to $140-145 million. If that scenario actually came to pass, I wouldn't be surprised if the Rangers executed some sort of follow-up move to create a little bit of payroll breathing room -- something like, say, moving Nelson Cruz for salary relief, or Jon Daniels muttering dark incantations in order to hypnotize a rival G.M. into trading for Michael Young without the Rangers having to eat 80-plus percent of his remaining commitment. Yeah, I think I could get on board with this plan.