Going into the final day of the MLB Winter Meetings today, traction on a lot of the bigger names on the free agent and trade markets has hit a near standstill. We've heard about teams having interest in players, players getting close to signing with teams, and trades on the horizon. But nothing has happened quite yet, and it's all because of one team: the Texas Rangers.
The Rangers are reportedly one of the two finalists for Zack Greinke, along with the Dodgers. They're also deep into the possibility of acquiring Justin Upton from the Diamondbacks. Of course, with Texas' lack of desire to trade Jurickson Profar or Elvis Andrus, they're not going to be able to deal for Upton unless Arizona is able to get the shortstop they desire. The Diamondbacks and Indians are reportedly involved in discussions that would send some of Arizona's young pitching to Cleveland for Asdrubal Cabrera, freeing them up to then trade Upton to the Rangers for whatever. If the Rangers are able to acquire Upton, then they have no need to re-sign Josh Hamilton and can be free to sign Greinke.
Then, once the Rangers drop out of the bidding for Hamilton, he'll be free to sign with the Mariners, who reportedly are close to a deal with him. If the Mariners sign Hamilton, that takes them out of the running for Michael Bourn, another Seattle target, and that will allow Bourn to sign elsewhere, potentially Philadelphia. But the Phillies are still deep in talks to acquire a third baseman, and have a deal lined up for Michael Young with (drumroll) the Rangers, pending Young's approval of the deal. If Young declines the trade, the Phillies could turn their attention to Kevin Youkilis, who has multiple offers on the table including a one year, $12 million contract from the Yankees.
This is pretty much a mess and a half right now. Once the Rangers figure out just what they're going to do, the rest of the bigger names will start to slide into place. That doesn't even take into account the domino effect that will occur once Greinke signs, likely leading to Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse, and Ryan Dempster falling off the market in turn. All eyes right now across the league are on Texas GM Jon Daniels, and I'm sure that more than a few front office personnel, agents, and players are getting antsy about what's going to happen. But once Daniels pushes one button, everything will fall into focus.