The Rangers and the Starting Pitching Trade Market

ST PETERSBURG, FL - OCTOBER 12: : Pitcher Cliff Lee #33 of the Texas Rangers celebrates his team's victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 5 of the ALDS at Tropicana Field on October 12, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

T.R. Sullivan has an update today on four pitchers who are on the trade market and who could be a potential upgrade for the Rangers -- Zack Greinke, James Shields, Josh Johnson, and Cliff Lee.*

* Although Sullivan says it is four pitchers, he also lists Ryan Dempster. However, I don't know that Dempster would be an upgrade over anyone in-house, and he's also likely to veto a trade to Texas, so he seems moot.

Of those four, Sullivan says "don't count on" Shields being available, and that the Phillies aren't going to subsidize any of Lee's salary. That leaves two -- Greinke and Johnson. And Sullivan's comments on Johnson are interesting:

3. Josh Johnson, Miami. – Signed for next season at $13.75 million. Rangers don’t have a great scouting report on him. Miami may keep him since the Marlins insist they are not in a complete firesale. Numbers aren’t overwhelming and his health is tenuous.

This is on the heels of Bob Nightengale reporting last night that the Rangers were willing to part with Mike Olt to land Johnson, and then Evan Grant saying this morning that his sources say the Rangers haven't said -- yet -- they'd give up Olt for Johnson, leading to speculation that the Marlins are floating the Olt rumor in order to drive up the bidding.

At the same time, the Rangers could be leaking negative information about Johnson and their interest in him in order to combat the notion out there that the Rangers desperately have to do something -- ANYTHING -- to get a starting pitcher in here.

At this point, I think it is more likely than not that the Rangers don't trade for a starting pitcher. I think we'll see a move or two, possibly for a reliever, possibly for a bench bat, maybe something out of left field to upgrade their first base situation.

But the situation is fluid, and we'll probably have a bunch more rumored changes in course between now and next Tuesday's deadline.

UPDATE -- Here's a piece from Jon Paul Morosi on the Greinke market. Of particular note:

The Rangers are perhaps the most obvious fit for Greinke, having recently lost fellow right-hander Colby Lewis to a season-ending elbow injury. Melvin will be inclined to deal with the Rangers, because they have perhaps the deepest farm system of any contender in baseball. Still, it is unlikely that Milwaukee will obtain either of Texas’ top position players — shortstop Jurickson Profar and third baseman Mike Olt — in a deal for Greinke.

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