ARLINGTON -- The Rangers, while talking publicly about the possibility of committing to young players, are apparently doing some last-minute Christmas shopping among the list of second-tier free agents still sitting on the market. The Rangers, rebuffed in their efforts to sign outfielder Josh Hamilton and pitcher Zack Greinke, are meeting with, talking to or rumored to be involved with outfielders Cody Ross and Nick Swisher, first baseman Adam LaRoche, catcher A.J. Pierzynski and pitcher Edwin Jackson. Agent Scott Boras is also trying to get the Rangers interested in outfielder Michael Bourn and pitcher Kyle Lohse. All of that doesn't take into account the Rangers would still like to upgrade their bullpen with at least one veteran proven setup reliever.
General manager Jon Daniels has not been available to comment on Texas' latest efforts to upgrade. But his message all along has been the Rangers like the core players they have, but will continue to explore ways to improve the ballclub. Certainly Plan B involves adding someone at some position. Pierzynski seems to make the most sense. The Rangers have Geovany Soto as their No. 1 catcher, but clearly want to upgrade the position. Soto is a right-handed hitter who hit .198 with 11 home runs and 39 RBIs in 99 games with the Rangers and Cubs last year. Texas does not have a catching prospect ready for the Majors, so right now it would have to choose a backup from a group that includes Eli Whiteside, Konrad Schmidt and Luis Martinez. Pierzynski is a left-handed hitter who hit .278 with 27 home runs and 77 RBIs for the White Sox. He could form a platoon with Soto or be handed the job outright. The Rangers met with Pierzynski on Tuesday. They also met with Ross, a right-handed-hitting outfielder who hit .267 with 22 home runs and 81 RBIs for the Red Sox last year. Ross turns 32 on Sunday and has been with six different organizations in his Major League career. Signing Ross or Swisher, who is a switch-hitter, to play right field would allow the Rangers to move Nelson Cruz to designated hitter. Currently Texas' best DH option is a platoon between Mitch Moreland and Mike Olt. Acquiring either Swisher or Ross would give the Rangers at least one corner outfielder signed beyond 2013. Cruz and David Murphy are both free agents after this coming season. Jackson represents the Rangers' desire to find a fifth starter to fit into a rotation that already includes Matt Harrison, Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando. Rookie left-hander Martin Perez finished last season as the fifth starter, but the Rangers are not sure he's ready. Rookie right-hander Justin Grimm is another candidate, and Texas has considered the possibility of moving reliever Robbie Ross to the rotation. The Rangers also have right-hander Colby Lewis, who underwent surgery on July 27 to repair a torn flexor tendon muscle and has just resumed his throwing program. He could be ready to return to the rotation by June 1 or earlier. Jackson is durable, but inconsistent. He was 10-11 with a 4.03 ERA in 31 games for the Nationals this past season and is 70-71 with a 4.40 ERA in his career, but hasn't been on the disabled list since 2004.
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.