HBT will be at the Winter Meetings next week

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Peter Gammons was interviewed about hot stove stuff and he was asked about what happens at the Winter Meetings:

It’s a lot of lobby wandering. You got everybody there and it’s fun. You see Alderson go into an elevator with (Cubs general manager) Jim Hendry and all of a sudden you start working to see if there is a Cubs- Mets trade being talked about. It goes on like that all day. Usually from Sunday to Monday things are out of control with rumors and stuff.
Last year was my first Winter Meetings and that was my sense of it too. Glad I wasn’t missing anything.  My guess is Gammons will get to enjoy the Meetings more this year than he did last year, as this year he won’t be announcing that he’s leaving ESPN, thereby causing every writer in the place to want to come congratulate him.  I have no idea how he got any work done last year. Then again, the Meetings were in a cold and snowy Indianapolis last year too, so it’s not like there were many distractions beyond that.
Anyway, I’m going to the Winter Meetings again this year. They’re at Disney World. I’m flying down on Sunday and will be reporting from them all week.  For those of you who weren’t HBT readers last year, know this: we update constantly during the Meetings, even more frequently than we currently do.  If there is buzz about anything, you can bet that we’ll be among the first if not the first to pass it along.  So what I’m saying is that you should probably keep a window open with HBT in it all week long.
This will probably be the best Winter Meetings for a while too. I hear that for the next two years they’ll be in Russia and Qatar.

Mike Napoli and Rays have “mutual interest” in a deal

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.

Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.

Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.