Rangers still eyeing two big names

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Texas Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan wouldn't dismiss the idea that his club could afford to sign both Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke, but he acknowledged that it would take ownership approval.

Ryan, speaking to local reporters on Wednesday night, said principal owners Bob Simpson and Ray Davis would have to approve anything that was over budget. And Ryan suspects that signing both players would put the club over budget, though he cautions that he doesn't know exactly what that might cost.

Davis is in Nashville, attending some of the club's meetings. The key personnel that determine the club's financial resources are in place should general manager Jon Daniels get close to a deal before the winter meetings end.

"It comes down to ownership and what the opportunities are," Ryan said. "If you did have the opportunity to sign those guys, we'd have to look at our budget and where we are and if it were to surpass that number, then obviously Ray and Bob would have to approve that. That hadn't been discussed because I don't think anything is even close to that scenario."

Ryan said he isn't sitting in every meeting that Daniels is having with the representatives for Hamilton and Greinke, but he doesn't think "there's been a lot of numbers talked about."

"Any discussions that have been had are very preliminary," Ryan said. "I think everybody was probably hoping that things would be further advanced as far as the meetings are concerned. It's been pretty slow in that area."

Ryan said he isn't usually comfortable signing pitchers to six-year deals, but the club has made exceptions. It made an offer in that range to Cliff Lee and, after paying the costly posting bid, signed Yu Darvish to a six-year deal. But Ryan says that he isn't as concerned about Greinke having arm trouble as he might be with other pitchers. Ryan likes Greinke's delivery and arm slot and feels he's durable.

"I truly do think that he's the premier free agent out there as far as pitchers are concerned," Ryan said. "When I look at him, you can't help but like him. He's got a good delivery, he knows how to pitch, uses his off-speed pitches well. I also, when I look at him, I don't think about him in the sense that I expect him to experience any arm trouble. That's one thing about his history is that he's healthy as far as throwing injuries are concerned."

Ryan has questioned Hamilton some in the past, saying this summer as the outfielder slumped that he felt he appeared to give away some at-bats. But Ryan also sees the value in what Hamilton brings to the club and his production in the middle of the lineup.

"I think everybody realizes what Josh means to a ballclub and what his presence in the lineup means to you and how the opposing team knows where he hits in the lineup, that he's on-deck and that they have to deal with him in that particular inning," Ryan said. "Albert Pujols brings that presence, but there's not a lot of people that bring that kind of presence. A-Rod used to bring that presence. There's not many players that are capable of doing that. And that's real."

Ryan said there's plenty of blame to go around for the club's rough finish to the season. The Rangers blew a five-game lead with nine to play in the AL West and then lost to Baltimore in the AL wild-card game, ending their postseason much earlier than expected.

"It was disappointing for everyone -- the fans, management, the team itself," Ryan said. "We went into a funk at the wrong time. You can't say that it was Josh's fault. It was a team effort. It just happened."

Hamilton dropped a fly ball in center field on the final day of the regular season in Oakland, helping the A's take the lead in a game they eventually won to finish off a sweep of Texas to claim the division title.

"It came at a bad time," Ryan said. "If that isn't in that situation under the circumstances we were at, people wouldn't even think about it. All it does it magnify that play. Do I think about that? No, I don't. It's just one of those unfortunate things that happened. If something happens at the wrong time, it's magnified and that's what happened there."