The Rangers and Mike Napoli avoided arbitration today by agreeing to a one-year, $5.8 million contract, according to to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.
Napoli, who was just acquired from the Blue Jays for Frank Francisco earlier this week, requested $6.1 million and was offered $5.3 million from the Angels when arbitration figures were exchanged last Tuesday, so the two sides actually settled a little bit higher than the midpoint. That’s a nice way to build goodwill with a new acquisition.
The 29-year-old Napoli earned $3.6 million last season while batting .238/.316/.468 over 510 plate appearances, establishing career-highs with 26 homers and 68 RBI. It’s unclear how Rangers manager Ron Washington intends to use him, but he’ll likely see some time behind the plate, as well as designated hitter or first base against left-handed pitching.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.