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Zack Greinke: Texas Rangers Should Break the Bank on Top Free Agent

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Zack Greinke: Texas Rangers Should Break the Bank on Top Free Agent
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The possibility of Zack Greinke in a Texas Rangers uniform ultimately fell through at the 2012 MLB trading deadline, as he went to AL West divisional rival Los Angeles instead.

However, MLB.com's Rangers beat writer T.R. Sullivan believes the franchise will take another look at him in the free-agent market this offseason, where they would be wise to break the bank on the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner.

Pending free-agent Josh Hamilton may bear the brunt of the blame for the Texas Rangers' shocking late-season collapse. But the biggest problem in Arlington remains lackluster starting pitching.

Sullivan writes:

The Rangers made a strong push for him at the Trade Deadline, he is the premier pitching free agent on the market and this is still an organization that wants to build around pitching...Look for the Rangers to be one of the major pursuers for Greinke this winter in an attempt to reinforce their rotation.

Sullivan is a very reliable source, and it seems the organization itself wants to build around better starting pitching.

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In 2012, the team's 86 quality starts and combined 3.99 ERA were only good enough for 14th and 16th in the league, respectively, in those key categories. No playoff team had a worse team ERA than the Rangers did.

Although he hasn't quite matched his spectacular season of four years ago, Greinke would instantly become the ace in Texas. He will be needed even more desperately if the team can't hold onto Hamilton or catcher Mike Napoli for a reasonable price.

As the rotation stands right now, Derek Holland is coming off of a down year but has obvious potential, Yu Darvish proved that he could adjust to the MLB by winning 16 games in his first season, and Matt Harrison notched 18 victories and a 3.28 ERA, best among Ranger starters.

Beyond them, Colby Lewis cashed in a one-year deal for $2 million (via the Star-Telegram), but the struggling Scott Feldman also remains. One point that may be lost in the chaos of the Texas collapse is trade-deadline acquisition Ryan Dempster.

After pitching well for the Chicago Cubs to start the season, Dempster was brought in to try to help out the Ranger rotation. He went on to post a 5-5 record with a 5.09 ERA, and will be a free agent as well this offseason.

There is definitely some promising depth to the rotation, but further fortification is necessary for this team to contend deep in the postseason.

Headlining the rotation with Greinke might be the move Daniels and Co. need to make to get this team over the World Series hump.

With the kind of run support the Rangers are capable of providing, Greinke could become a 20-game winner for the first time in his career. He is only 28 years old; so making a long-term investment in him would keep him with the team for the rest of his prime playing days.

There are still plenty of doubts about Hamilton re-signing. His offensive production will be difficult to replace, but no matter what, the Rangers must get better on the bump.

That starts with a redemptive effort to acquire Greinke this winter.

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