Rangers “optimistic” about locking up Mike Napoli this winter

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Rangers catcher Mike Napoli is currently scheduled to become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2012 season. But the Texas front office is hoping that he won’t even get a whiff of the open market.

According to FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi, the Rangers are going to attempt to sign Napoli to a multi-year extension later this winter and are “optimistic” that something will get done.

Napoli posted a fantastic .320/.414/.631 slash line across 113 games this past year for the American League-champion Rangers. His value has never been higher and the Rangers will likely have to spend big in order to lock him up long-term, but the fact that they’re not in the running for any of the elite free agents on the market this winter (beyond perhaps C.J. Wilson) might serve as an indication that the club has cash at the ready for the 30-year-old slugger.

Napoli earned a $5.8 million salary in 2011 as a third-year arbitration-eligible player.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.