NASHVILLE, Tenn. – If the Los Angeles Dodgers were planning on taking over baseball, along with the entire galaxy, it appears they'll have to leave Nashville undisturbed.
They arrived with their new financial might and a hole or two in their starting rotation, only to rediscover that the meetings find their own pace, and Zack Greinke his, and the Texas Rangers theirs. As a result, the Dodgers' sole extravagance was a team dinner at Morton's.
The Rangers and Dodgers are the only known serious players for Greinke. Two presumed suitors – the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Angels – appear to have checked out. The Nationals opted for Dan Haren earlier this week, and on Wednesday night the Angels agreed to terms with Joe Blanton, five days after trading for Tommy Hanson.
While that would seem to set up a simple auction between the Rangers and Dodgers, agent Casey Close has yet to open the bidding. The Dodgers haven't made an offer, because they haven't been asked for one. Speaking to reporters who cover his team, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels would not divulge whether he'd entered into substantive negotiations with Greinke's agent.
The delay could be tied to the Rangers' involvement with free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton. Daniels met with Hamilton's agent, Mike Moye, late Tuesday night, and the Rangers have been told they would have a chance to match any offer. Hamilton's market beyond the Rangers is somewhat mysterious, though the Seattle Mariners and Boston Red Sox appear to be engaged to some degree. A Boston television station reported Wednesday that Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell met with Hamilton two days before.
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Assuming the Rangers couldn't – or wouldn't – sign both, they could be balancing conversations with Hamilton's people against those with Greinke's people, leaving the two best free agents tied to each other and in limbo.
"We're staying in touch and communicating," Daniels told Rangers reporters, meaning Hamilton. "They're exploring their options. We have a good relationship, and we agree it's a good fit, but it's got to be something that's responsive to the market. That's what we're determining."
The Dodgers, meantime, wait to engage on Greinke. General manager Ned Colletti spoke Wednesday with Close, Greinke's agent. He was asked if he'd entered into negotiations, meaning the exchange of contract terms.
"I think there's still a lot of due diligence going on," Colletti said. "Conversations are getting deeper. I don't know if people are quite ready to make their choice."
In the days leading to the winter meetings, Greinke met with Dodgers, Angels and Rangers representatives. With the Angels out and the Dodgers waiting, one theory had Greinke with a preference for the Rangers while hoping not to lose the Dodgers as an option. Perhaps Close simply is letting the Greinke market play for a while, or a third or fourth team has sent the Greinke situation into a new direction.
With or without Greinke, the Dodgers are intent on adding two starting pitchers. They have until Sunday afternoon to sign South Korean left-hander Ryu Hyun-jin and have spoken regularly with the agent for Anibal Sanchez. They might consider a trade for a pitcher, and toward that have received many inquiries on shortstop Dee Gordon.
Their first priority remains Greinke and, while apparently somewhat perplexed at the market's pace, they seem intent on sticking it out.
"As long as somebody doesn't tell you, 'Hey, he's no longer there,' " Colletti said, "you keep working."
The galaxy will still be there tomorrow.
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