The 2012 non-waiver trade deadline is now less than three hours away, and the Rangers, at this point, don't appear to be close on any particular deal, with the major news of this past hour being (a) the Cubs and Dodgers closing in on a deal that will (finally) send Ryan Dempster to the west coast, and (b) the Phillies preparing to pull the triggers on two separate deals that will ship Hunter Pence to the Giants for an undisclosed return, and Shane Victorino to the Dodgers for reliever Josh Lindblom and AA-ball reliever Ethan Martin. None of these deals look to be completed as of yet, but all three of these deals appear to be very close and likely to be completed ahead of the deadline.
As far as the Rangers are concerned, however, there doesn't seem to be much of real substance happening, as their pursuit of a starting pitcher appears to have slammed into a wall -- the Cliff Lee discussions fell apart yesterday, the Josh Johnson discussions disintegrated in the face of the Marlins' reportedly excessive demands and Johnson's problematic medicals, and the James Shields/Josh Beckett discussions never seemed to go much of anywhere, with today's fringy Matt Garza/Dempster trade rumors also slowly fading into nothingness. Lots of sexy, titillating rumors, and apparently one almost-trade (Zack Greinke), but nothing else to show for it at this point, aside from last night's Geovany Soto deal (which I've already written about at some length).
Texas has also put in some work on outfielders in the vein of Shin-Soo Choo and Josh Willingham, and in the relief market as well (with Jonathan Broxton being the most prominent name linked to the Rangers), but, again, as of the first half of the 12:00 p.m. CDT hour on Tuesday, there's no real indication that the Rangers are close to swinging any major trade -- or, for that matter, any trade at all.
The Rangers entered this trade market with legitimate aspirations of bolstering their roster in anticipation of embarking upon another deep post-season run, and the fact that nothing has really come together to this point indicates that they've largely been put off by the demands of potential trade partners, with the contractual situations of guys like Lee and Beckett further complicating matters on those fronts. I speculated about this a little bit on Twitter earlier today, but I'm beginning to wonder if both points (1) and (3) from my trade market manifesto have been major factors for the Rangers this month -- that is to say, that they're reluctant to overpay with young talent because it's becoming increasingly difficult to reload the farm, and that they're not as well-positioned to take on a lot of year-2012 payroll as some of us might have thought to be the case.
And, of course, another issue here is that you can't really extract full benefit from a deal for somebody like Shin-Soo Choo, or even from a promotion of Mike Olt to the major league roster, with Michael Young still receiving everyday playing time.
In any event, I expect that we'll see the Rangers make some sort of move, but I don't know that such a deal will necessarily go down today. The likeliest outcome at this point is that the Rangers acquire a reliever and/or a bench bat, and you don't have to trade for one of those lower-impact types today; waiver-period deals centered around those types of players transpire every August. As far as any legitimate hope for a blockbuster, high-impact trade is concerned, though ... yeah, there's still time, and something could still happen, and I have no doubt that the Rangers are trying hard to make something happen, but a deal along those lines probably isn't going to materialize.
2:00 p.m. Update: Ryan Dempster has reportedly made it known that he will waive his 10-and-5 no-trade rights in the event that he is traded to the Yankees, Dodgers, and Rangers, and the Dempster-to-L.A. deal appears to be slowly dying on the vine. Jeff Wilson reports that the Rangers are working on obtaining reliever Jared Burton from the Twins, that they never made any progress on Shin-Soo Choo, that they never contacted the Rockies about Rafael Betancourt, and, perhaps most interestingly, that they thought they had a deal in place for the Red Sox' Josh Beckett over the weekend, but the deal fell through near the very end of the process.
It's not immediately clear what led to that deal collapsing -- Beckett's remaining contractual obligation is north of $35 million through 2014, so we can hazard a reasonable guess that the Rangers and Red Sox couldn't agree to terms on the amount of cash that Boston would send over, but that's really nothing more than an educated guess at this point. I'll be interested to see if the details on the Rangers' offer end up being leaked by one source or another within the next couple of days. Dempster, meanwhile, continues to dangle out there as an interesting mid-rotation possibility, and the one thing you still wonder about is whether the Rangers perceive their pitching situation as being dire enough to pull the trigger and meet Chicago's asking price.