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Rangers' quest for top pitchers challenging

MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Rangers have engaged agent Scott Boras on right-handed pitcher Jake Arrieta, but are bracing for a high price tag.

They have engaged the D-backs in trade talks on pitcher Zack Greinke but have not made sufficient progress. A trade could be difficult if the Rangers are insistent on outfielder Shin-Soo Choo being included in the return package.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Rangers have engaged agent Scott Boras on right-handed pitcher Jake Arrieta, but are bracing for a high price tag.

They have engaged the D-backs in trade talks on pitcher Zack Greinke but have not made sufficient progress. A trade could be difficult if the Rangers are insistent on outfielder Shin-Soo Choo being included in the return package.

The Rangers came to the Winter Meetings looking for starting pitching and they have clearly set their sights high for a rotation that already includes left-handers Cole Hamels, Martin Perez and Mike Minor, and right-hander Doug Fister.

But getting a front-line starting pitcher is not going to be easy, especially considering the Rangers privately feel that Yu Darvish is going to be out of their price range.

"Nothing has changed," Daniels said. "We added a few guys [Fister and Minor] before we got here and we are looking for more."

Video: Banister on looking for starting pitching depth

Boras has made his feelings clear on the value of Arrieta, who was a National League Cy Young Award winner for the Cubs in 2015 and a 14-game winner last season. He is also 5-3 with a 3.08 ERA in nine postseason starts, including two wins in the 2016 World Series.

"The road to playoffville is about winning big games at big times," Boras said. "The one thing Jake Arrieta's done is he's done that for the Cubs."

Arrieta has deep Texas connections. He went to Plano East High just north of Dallas, pitched at TCU and lives in Austin. That may not motivate him to sign with Texas.

"I think what Jake is looking for is a place that allows him to continue to win and gives the family a place to be for a long time," Boras said. "So I am not sure geography is the measurement in his case. What he is looking for is a club that provides him with a lot of runs and good defense and a chance to play in the World Series again."

Greinke is two years into a six-year, $206.5 million contract he signed with the D-backs before the 2016 season. To make a deal work, the Rangers would likely want to include Choo, who has three years and $62 million left on his contract. That would be tough for the D-backs considering Choo had 77 games in the outfield last year and 65 at designated hitter.

Despite the discussions with the D-backs, Daniels said he is not motivated to trade Choo this winter. Choo hit .261 last season with 96 runs, 22 home runs, 78 RBIs, a .357 on-base percentage and a .423 slugging percentage.

"He had a really good year," Daniels said. "He has been extremely productive."

The Rangers would be willing to trade Choo only if it facilitated the acquisition of a front-line starter. That's been a tough process for the Rangers this winter.

Rangers beat
• The Rangers have not prioritized outfield help at the Winter Meetings. They did ask the Red Sox about outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. but the discussions went nowhere.

• The Rangers remain in contact with pitcher Andrew Cashner, a free agent who won 11 games for them last season.

• MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reported the Rangers have signed outfielder D'Vaughn Knowles and shortstop Keithron Moss. Both are 16 and from the Bahamas.

• The Rangers have reached an agreement with right-handed pitcher Zeke Spruill on a Minor League contract. He pitched this past season in Taiwan and in Korea in 2016. He pitched for the D-backs in 2013-14 and is potential starting pitching depth.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke