As much as I love to make bold predictions every year at this time, baseball’s hot stove is at this point to hot even for me to predict what is going to happen with the top free agents.

All I know for certain is the Rangers have plenty of money to spend and the big fish are still swimming around dodging hooks.

Throw a feather in the air and see which direction it flies to determine the state of baseball’s free agent market at this second, but make sure you toss it in the air again in the next minute because the wind will surely have shifted.

Since I’m refusing to make any predictions at the moment I can only offer the latest news on the Rangers as they prepare for the Winter Meetings which kick off Sunday.

According to second baseman Ian Kinsler via the Ben and Skin Sportstalk show in Dallas/Ft. Worth, the Rangers made a second visit to Arkansas to meet with Cliff Lee.

It really depends on who you want to believe on where things stand on the Lee front.

New York papers, specifically a columnist for the New York Post, have started using “AL executives” and “Rangers officials” to paint a gloomy picture for those wanting Lee to return to Arlington for the next five or six years.

I really don’t think there’s enough salt in the world to swallow the nonsense coming from that guy’s computer.

However, those citing “friends” of Lee say he wants to return to Texas provided the money is right.

Well duh.

I don’t think there’s any question Lee wants to come back to Texas, just look at how much he enjoyed beating the snot out of the Yankees in the playoffs last year.

Not to mention if the Yankees were going to blow the Rangers out of the water they would have done so by now.

The ugly truth Yankee fans may not want to hear is the Yankees will have to offer at least 5% more than the Rangers due to state tax issues, a number that could go even higher considering Lee lives very close to Arlington and has been called a “country boy.”

Considering he’s going to be deer hunting during the Winter Meetings I think it’s safe to call the country boy rumor a fact.

Two things I can’t shake about Lee at this stage is the sheer joy he showed while shredding through the Yankee lineup in the ALCS and of course the fact the Yankees haven’t already offered Lee the gross national product of Guam over six years.

Looking at the bloated payroll the Yankees are already saddled with and the comments from Yankee management early in the offseason about how the Yankees are still a business I have to ask.

Is it possible the Yankees don’t have the payroll space to offer Lee the amount of money it’ll take to overcome the advantages the Rangers have with a lack of a state income tax and proximity to Lee’s offseason home?

Not to mention Lee formed some very close bonds with his teammates in Texas; a run to the World Series and going through the Yankees rather easily tend to form bonds you know.  

The Lee market looks to peak with a signing sometime next week and either the Yankees or Rangers will have to initiate plan B; which rumor has it include Royals ace Zack Greinke.

Again, I’m not making any predictions here, but reading through the rumors flying around Arlington right now it would not surprise me at all for the Rangers to sign Lee and trade for Greinke at next weeks Winter Meetings.

How’s that for making a splash.

Now for all of you saying Greinke isn’t worth the prospects we’d have to give up I will say one thing.

The prospects in this case are irrelevant, especially if the Rangers shake up the baseball world up by signing Lee and trading for Greinke.

The latest I’ve heard is the Rangers would have to send Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter, Engel Beltre and one more top prospect for Greinke, a price that looks staggering but really isn’t.

If the Rangers pull it off Lee and Greinke would replace Holland and Hunter in the rotation, keeping Neftali Feliz and the rest of the bullpen in tact for the next few seasons.

The rotation then becomes Cliff Lee, Zack Greinke, CJ Wilson, Colby Lewis and the winner of a spring training competition for the fifth spot.

That is worth the prospects the Rangers would have to give up and the money they would have to pay Lee.

Now, the odds of this happening are still very unlikely as the Rangers may decide to keep their prospects if Lee re-signs, but I do know the idea of pursuing Greinke whether or not Lee signs has been rumored for some time now.

I’m not crazy enough to predict it, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it happens.