ARLINGTON -- The Rangers, with a week to go before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, are looking for a "difference-maker" for their rotation, according to industry sources.
That's why Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels and Brewers right-hander Zack Greinke had been at the top of their list. The Rangers had discussions with both teams as well as any other team that has starting pitching to trade before next Tuesday. The Rangers have also scouted Marlins right-hander Josh Johnson.
The Rangers have a rotation that includes left-handers Derek Holland and Matt Harrison and right-hander Yu Darvish. They lost Colby Lewis for the season with a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow, but are expecting Roy Oswalt to return to the rotation on Sunday after skipping a start with tightness in his lower back. Scott Feldman beat the Red Sox, 9-1, on Tuesday night by holding them to one run in seven innings, and Alexi Ogando could be moved to the rotation.
What all that means is the Rangers aren't trying to fill a hole in their rotation. They have enough pitchers to fill out their rotation. The Rangers are looking for a pitcher who could do what Cliff Lee did for them in 2010, and that is make a difference when it comes to the playoffs.
Hamels would be at the top of their list, but the Phillies signed him to a long-term contract extension on Wednesday. The Brewers have also tried to re-sign Greinke, but he appears more interested in becoming a free agent after the season. He started on Tuesday against the Phillies after being skipped in his last start because the Brewers felt he needed extra rest.
Greinke can be a free agent at the end of the season and, under the new Basic Agreement rules, the Rangers would not get Draft-pick compensation if he signs with another team. That will not deter the Rangers from making a trade if they believe the pitcher can make a difference in the playoffs.
There have been rumors that the Phillies might be willing to trade Lee, who is in the second season of a five-year, $120 million contract. But that contract is backloaded, as Lee is due $75 million over the next three seasons, and the Rangers wouldn't want to do something unless the Phillies picked up part of that. There are no indications of that being the case.