It's the 10:00 p.m. CST hour on Day 2 of the winter meetings, and after hearing reports for the better part of the day about how the Rangers were making serious progress with Josh Hamilton and pushing towards a conclusion, the narrative appears to be shifting as the hour grows late:
(a) During the 6 p.m. hour, Jon Daniels told the media assemblage in Nashville that he had not yet communicated with Hamilton's agent, Mike Moye, and denied that the Rangers were closing in on a pact with Hamilton (although none of that amounts to a categorical denial that the club has been negotiating with Hamilton);
(b) During the 8 p.m. hour, Hamilton tweeted a picture of himself and his wife, Katie, with the caption "heading home!!" (which is odd in the sense that he's leaving the meetings without any sort of agreement being in place, or even being particularly close -- ESPN.com's Jim Bowden tweets that Hamilton still wants to return to Texas, but wants more time to establish his market, while CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman states that the Hamilton talks have been "put on hold" while the club directs its attention towards Zack Greinke):
(c) Within the two last hours, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal published a story in which he stated that it will be "an upset" if the Rangers do not land one of Hamilton or Zack Greinke:
The Rangers are competing for both players, major-league sources say, while also continuing to engage in trade discussions for Arizona right fielder Justin Upton, Tampa Bay right-hander James Shields and others.
The team’s goal: To land both a star pitcher and a star hitter.
Some in the industry believe the Rangers’ preference is Greinke, saying that the team president, Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, always wants a pitcher first.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, however, remain the front-runners for Greinke, and are likely to offer the largest financial package, sources say.
Greinke, 29, also might prefer to return to the National League rather than pitch in a hitter-friendly park in the AL. But if he chooses the Dodgers, the Rangers will be in position to pivot quickly.
The team has made progress with Hamilton, sources say. A deal, if reached, likely would be for four or five years with multiple options. But it is still possible that another team could beat the Texas offer.
On a tangentially related note, T.R. Sullivan reiterates the worst-kept secret of the winter -- that is, that the Rangers are pursuing Zack Greinke -- but states that Texas does not expect to be able to sign Greinke, with one club official remarking: "That one is going to be hard. The Dodgers are probably going to blow us away."
So, that about sums up where we are at this point in time, and only deepens the mystery of what, exactly, is going on within the Rangers' war room right now. If there's anything that strikes me as much of a surprise here, it's that Hamilton is no longer present in Nashville, because one wouldn't imagine that he would be departing if an agreement with one team or another was especially close. And with things progressing slowly on the Greinke front, one doesn't get the feeling that either Greinke or Hamilton are going to select their final destinations within the next 24-48 hours.
On the other hand, though, Rosenthal has been persistent with his reports throughout the day of the Rangers and Hamilton making serious progress towards a contract, and Rosenthal is known to be well-connected with the organization (and, in particular, with Jon Daniels).
Nobody really knows anything, I suppose.