With three weeks remaining before the non-waiver trade deadline, the Rangers are scouting both Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke, but make no mistake about it, if the Rangers are going to add another starting pitcher for the stretch drive, it'll be Hamels.
The Rangers are jockeying with the Yankees for the best record in baseball as is, but adding a starter of the caliber of Cole Hamels is something the club is very interested in despite the prospects of getting all of their injured pitchers off the DL between now and the deadline.
Texas likes the rotation for obvious reasons, especially knowing their starters lead all of baseball in wins going into the all-star break, but making the playoffs is no longer enough for this organization after losing the past two World Series.
In fact, the strength of this pitching staff top to bottom, when healthy, is all the leverage they will need to win the Hamels sweepstakes that despite what you're hearing from the Phillies, will be in full swing after the All-Star break.
Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels knows that not only will the Phillies put Hamels on the market, but that his Rangers will be able to put together the best trade package of prospects without dealing prized prospect Mike Olt, who the Phillies covet.
The Rangers are not dealing Olt.
The Phillies can ask all they want, but it's not happening for one very important reason.
Cole Hamels isn't a dire need for the Rangers, they want him for sure, but don't need him enough to deal away the club's future at first base.
The Phillies on the other hand have dug themselves in such a hole that the returns of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley can't save their season.
They're only four games ahead of the worst teams in baseball for crying out loud and have four teams ahead of them in the NL East standings.
Even if they caught fire in the second half they can't catch the Nationals or Mets at this point.
Even without putting Olt in the deal, the Rangers will still be able to offer the best package for Hamels and the Phillies, knowing they have Halladay and Lee at the top of the rotation in 2013 and the reality Hamels will likely walk via free agency after the year have one shot to make a deal to make them contenders next season.
They know that.
Jon Daniels knows that too.
Daniels, however, can give them a package built around top pitching prospect Martin Perez who is ready for the major leagues and can replace Hamels in the Phillies rotation for both the second half and the next five years after that before he's eligible for free agency.
A package built around Perez also keeps the Rangers from sacrificing their future in case the club is unable to sign Hamels long term like they were unable to do with Cliff Lee.
With the emergence of Leonys "Cohiba" Martin the Rangers could even sweeten the deal by including outfielder Craig Gentry giving the Phillies major league ready pieces now and probably two top prospects from the Rangers position of strength.
Any deal not involving Olt at this point is a win for Texas and as much as the Phillies want him in the deal, it's not necessary to give the Phillies market value for Hamels.
It's going to be fascinating to watch this transpire over the next three weeks as you have two general managers who are in a position to execute a trade that is a win for both organizations.
The Rangers are in heavy on Hamels because he's a game changer both in the AL West race and the American League playoffs should they get there again.
From the Phillies side of things, adding a pitcher like Perez who is under club control for another five seasons plus a major league ready piece in Gentry and prospects will help them reload and be back in contention next season.
All eyes in the baseball world will be on what the Phillies do with Hamels over the next three weeks and it's going to be something to watch as two clubs, one trying to win the World Series and another trying to return to contention next season sit down and work out a deal that helps both achieve that goal.