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Rangers now front-runners to sign Zack Greinke, working to acquire Justin Upton

Los Angeles Dodgers officials are pessimistic that they'll be able to sign Zack Greinke, making the Texas Rangers the front-runners to sign the ace starting pitcher.

Jeff Gross

For the better part of a month, it had been believed that the Los Angeles Dodgers would sign this winter's top free agent starting pitcher, Zack Greinke. With baseball's Winter Meetings all but over, it appears that the Texas Rangers are now the favorite to sign Greinke -- and not the Dodgers or Los Angeles Angels.

Early Thursday morning, CBS Sports' Scott Miller tweeted that there is a growing sentiment within the Dodgers organization that Greinke will end up in Texas. ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon reinforced that notion Thursday afternoon, when he wrote that Greinke is "unlikely" for the Dodgers.

With the Angels signing Joe Blanton and Sean Burnett on Wednesday, it appears that the Angels are likely out of Greinke bidding. The Angels went out of their way to trade Ervin Santana and decline Dan Haren's option just to make room for a Greinke offer, but the Angels reportedly won't be able to match an offer from Texas or their in-state rivals.

Aside from Texas, there is no other clear suitor for Greinke, unless the dreaded mystery team emerges.

It's certainly not a done deal, and there's still a very good chance that Greinke decides to sign with the Dodgers, but as the rumors currently stand, it appears that the Rangers are now the front-runners to sign Greinke.

In addition to Greinke, it appears that Rangers general manager Jon Daniels is working hard to acquire Justin Upton from the Diamondbacks. Late Wednesday night, it was reported that the Rangers, Indians, Mariners and Diamondbacks discussed a four-team deal, but that the deal would ultimately go nowhere -- mainly because of Seattle's involvement.

FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported midday Thursday that the Rangers, Rays and Diamondbacks are discussing a three-way deal -- and that Tampa Bay general manager Andrew Friedman is determined to execute a three-team trade.

If the Rangers sign Greinke and acquire Upton, then Texas would emerge as the clear winner of this year's Winter Meetings. It would also likely mean the end of the Josh Hamilton era in Texas -- but Nolan Ryan did say that it's possible for the Rangers to sign both Greinke and Hamilton.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.