July 15, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher James Shields (33) throws a pitch against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
UPDATE 10:39 AM EDT - According to sources, the Rangers have not agreed to deal Olt to the Marlins for Johnson, at least not yet, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News:
Sources: Rangers have not agreed to deal Olt for Johnson. At least not yet. Theory: Leak from Marlins to jack up market for Johnson?— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) July 25, 2012
UPDATE 10:03 AM EDT - The Rangers have told the Marlins that they would be willing to include top prospect Mike Olt in a trade for Josh Johnson, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today:
The Marlins also have starter Josh Johnson on the trade block, and the Texas Rangers are one of the teams actively pursuing him, a Marlins executive told USA TODAY Sports, with the Rangers informing the Marlins they would be willing to part with third-base prospect Mike Olt.
8:00 AM EDT - Joel Sherman of The New York Post spoke with an American League personnel head who said they’d be shocked if the Texas Rangers didn’t make a move for a top-of-the-rotation arm this summer:
AL personnel head said where #Rangers r in history, fall short last 2 WS, best player (Hamilton) set for fr agcy, would be shocked (cont)— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) July 24, 2012
Sherman mentioned Miami Marlins right-hander Josh Johnson and Philadelphia Phillies lefty Cole Hamels as potential targets for Texas. With Hamels apparently off the market, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports offered two other names the Rangers could look to acquire this summer, Tampa Bay Rays right-hander James Shields and Hamels’ teammate Cliff Lee.
Rosenthal notes that the Rangers view Shields, who’s had a down year with the Rays, as a rotation upgrade, though they don’t consider him to be "an ace at the level" of Hamels or Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Zack Greinke.
While the Phillies don’t seem to be making Lee available at this time, Rosenthal believes Texas would pursue the veteran southpaw if Philadelphia eventually does start shopping him.
T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that the Rangers are keeping in touch with teams willing to trade starting pitching. However, Texas isn’t looking for just any starter but one they consider to be a "difference-maker." This is why Sullivan views Hamels and Greinke as pitchers that figure to appeal more to Texas than others.
Sullivan adds that the Rangers "aren’t going to let draft picks get in the way" of bringing in a high-profile starter, meaning they would be willing to risk the chance of having a mid-season acquisition that’s a free agent-to-be, such as Greinke, walk this winter.
Which starter, if any, should the Rangers target?