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Notes: Front office being proactive

Notes: Club after marquee talent

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers aren't just sitting around waiting for Torii Hunter to decide where he wants to play.

Hunter is still No. 1 on the Rangers priority list this offseason, but general manager Jon Daniels is exploring all options. That includes at least inquiring about some of the big names that are supposedly on the trade market, whether it's pitcher Dontrelle Willis and third baseman Miguel Cabrera with the Florida Marlins, pitcher Erik Bedard with the Baltimore Orioles or pitcher Johan Santana with the Minnesota.

"There are a lot of big names being floated out there," Daniels said after having lunch with Tom Hicks on Friday and updating the owner on the Rangers offseason progress.

"It's real slow right now," Daniels said. "Until the first domino falls, it may take some time. Teams are holding on to their resources for guys at the top of the list. I don't know if any of these big names will even be moved, but I'm glad we made the decision to make our big trade at the end of July. If we had held on to Mark [Teixeira], there would be a lot of competition right now."

The Rangers priorities are finding a center fielder and getting help in the bullpen, but that doesn't keep Daniels from at least asking some of these teams what they want for their marquee players. The answer is roughly what the Rangers received from the Braves in exchange for Teixeira and reliever Ron Mahay.

"For the right players we are inquiring across the board to see whether it makes sense as far as the asking price and the contract," Daniels said. "We'll make a decision on an individual basis but we're looking at all premium players."

The Rangers know the free agent market is weak beyond center field, which is why they have expanded their search to Japan. They have interest in both outfielder Kosuke Fukudome and pitcher Hiroki Kuroda.

"I'm not going to talk about specific guys, but we've talked about a number of specific guys including some of the Japanese free agents," Daniels said.

Fukudome may stay in Japan. He played with the Chunichi Dragons in 2007, but met with officials from the Tokyo Giants earlier this week to discuss playing for them.

Hot Stove

Kuroda was 12-8 with a 3.56 ERA and won his league ERA title in 2006. Interest in him could be extremely high because the free agent market for starting pitching is shallow.

Kerry Wood and Eric Gagne are among the free agent names that the Rangers have talked about to upgrade their bullpen. Others who could be of interest are Scott Linebrink and LaTroy Hawkins.

Briefly: The Rangers are talking with second baseman Ian Kinsler's agents about a five-year deal but both sides aren't close right now. ... Free agent pitcher Kenny Rogers told the Detroit Free-Press that Hicks' insistence that he apologize over a 2005 incident with a cameraman before the Rangers would sign him is "confusing." Rogers said he has already apologized to the fans, his teammates and his family. Rogers is no longer represented by Scott Boras, but will instead represent himself.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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