Major League Baseball's annual Winter Meetings are set to kick off Monday in Nashville, Tenn., and for baseball fans, this week represents the peak of the offseason. For Texas Rangers fans, this week represents the beginning of a new era of Rangers baseball, as the 2013 Rangers could very well look much different than the 2010-12 version.
What will happen in the next four days?
None of us can know for sure. The Zack Greinke sweepstakes will probably heat up and come to a conclusion -- and Greinke will probably end up as the Los Angeles Dodgers' No. 2 starting pitcher, behind Clayton Kershaw.
The Justin Upton trade market will probably heat up. Texas, Atlanta and other teams have been linked to Arizona in trade talks. Upton, though, won't come cheap, and the D'Backs are believed to be seeking a young shortstop in any type of trade. The Rangers have two of the best young shortstops in baseball, but, are reluctant to deal either -- and rightfully so.
Josh Hamilton's suitors will likely emerge over the next four days. We've seen the Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners and Milwaukee Brewers loosely connected to the free agent slugger in the past weeks, but hardly anything concrete whatsoever. That should change in the coming days.
The Rangers, of course, will remain in on Hamilton until the very end. Hamilton has told the Rangers that he'll give Texas the chance to match any offers, and there's certainly no reason to think he'd back off of that claim.
Expect a fair amount of trade rumors regarding Derek Holland. Adam J. Morris over at Lone Star Ball presented a few scenarios in which dealing Holland would make sense -- and the most appetizing to Texas fans would be if the Rangers someway, somehow acquired David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays.
Further, the Rangers are apparently interested in talking to the New York Mets regarding a trade about 2012 Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.
Of course, Daniels and Texas' front office have kept Rangers fans on their toes the past couple of years. Last winter, the Rangers won the bidding for Yu Darvish, which came as a surprise to many in the baseball industry. In 2010, the Rangers watched Cliff Lee sign with the Philadelphia Phillies, not the New York Yankees, and eventually went on and signed Adrian Beltre later in the winter.
If there's one thing we can expect from Daniels and Texas this winter, it's the unexpected.
What do we know for sure headed into this winter's meetings?
Well, we know the Rangers, despite re-signing Geovany Soto, will be in the market for another catcher. Texas will likely be calling Toronto and asking about their glut of catchers, including J.P. Arencibia, Travis Travis D' Arnaud, and John Buck.
Texas will remain in talks with Mike Napoli, who has also drawn interest from the Red Sox and Mariners. If either the Red Sox or Mariners end up offering Napoli a four-year contract, something that would be a mistake, then the Rangers will probably lose out on Napoli's services.
We know Jon Daniels will do whatever he can to make the 2013 Texas Rangers a World Series contender once again. What that precisely entails is impossible to forecast, but given Texas' surplus of infielders and minor league arms, the Rangers will likely be fielding a lot of trade inquiries.
With no baseball for the next few months, this is the week baseball fans can enjoy the most. Sure, the rumors will be maddening and almost impossible to keep up with, but that's half the fun of the offseason. By the end of the week, Rangers fans may very well be able to form a clear dream about what the '13 Rangers will look like -- and what they may be able to accomplish.
'Tis the season, baseball fans.