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Hamilton has Rangers in holding pattern

Hamilton has Rangers in holding pattern

Hamilton has Rangers in holding pattern
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton has the Rangers in a holding pattern at the Winter Meetings. As day turned into night at the Opryland Resort on Tuesday, general manager Jon Daniels said that he has neither spoken nor met with Hamilton's agent, Mike Moye.

"I haven't had any dialogue with him since yesterday," said Daniels before heading off with club president Nolan Ryan and co-owner Ray Davis to the Minor League affiliates dinner.

Daniels did say that he expects to meet with Moye either late Tuesday night or possibly on Wednesday, but right now the Rangers are operating under the assumption that Hamilton is still testing the market and talking with other clubs. The Rangers expect that Hamilton will come back to them at some point before deciding where he'll play next year.

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"We haven't had that conversation yet," Daniels said. "It's where it has been all along. Josh is going through his process, and we're maintaining dialogue and interest. That's where it stands right now."

The fact that Moye and the Rangers have not had a conversation suggests that multiple teams are interested in Hamilton -- who has been in Nashville since Sunday -- despite denials across the board.

"A free agent that hits 40 home runs certainly has interest from other clubs," Daniels said. "That's what you expect in free agency."

The Rangers are also maintaining interest in free-agent pitcher Zack Greinke, but they are not optimistic they can get a deal done. Greinke is also taking his time making a decision, and the Dodgers are still viewed as the favorites.

As one Rangers official said, "The Dodgers are probably going to blow us away on that one."

The Rangers are actively looking for starting pitching, with Greinke at the top of their free-agent list, and they could also end up trading for a starter. They have talked with the Mets about National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, and they have an interest in the Rays' James Shields.

Dickey, who pitched for the Rangers from 2001 to 2006, has told people he would "love" to come back to Texas.

The Rangers, who list Martin Perez as their fifth starter, may look at other free-agent pitchers if they can't land Greinke or make a trade. The list drops off quickly after Greinke, with Kyle Lohse, Joe Saunders and Anibal Sanchez among the best available. The Rangers aren't likely to re-sign Ryan Dempster, who spent the final two months of the season with them after being acquired from the Cubs on July 31.

"Starting pitching is an area we're looking at, and we've talked about a few different options," Daniels said. "We're looking at both [trades and free agency], but I can't tell you our chances of completing something."

Starting pitching, the bullpen and catching are the Rangers' main areas of focus. Daniels said that the Rangers want to re-sign Hamilton, but if they don't, they'll likely go with an outfield of David Murphy in left, Nelson Cruz in right, and a platoon of Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin in center.

There has been speculation that the Rangers might trade shortstop Elvis Andrus, and one rumor that won't die is their alleged interest in D-backs outfielder Justin Upton. But Daniels said the chances of Andrus being with the Rangers on Opening Day are "very strong."

Clubs that look at the depth of the Rangers' infield think Texas might trade either Andrus or rookie Jurickson Profar, but Daniels downplayed the possibility.

"I'm not saying we won't under any circumstances, but it has to be a unique set of circumstances," he said.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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