Orioles considered darkhorse for Yoenis Cespedes

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From Nick Cafardo’s Sunday notes column in the Boston Globe, a must-read every weekend:

Yoenis Cespedes, CF, free agent – There was a lot of talk late in the week that the Orioles were the sleeper team for him. The Marlins, Tigers, and Cubs are also interested, but the Orioles are very aggressive in their pursuit of foreign-born players.

Cespedes paid a visit to Miami last week to meet with Marlins officials and was reportedly made a six-year offer worth a little under $40 million. If the O’s can top that proposal and the ones made by other interested clubs, they’ll obviously have a shot.

Cespedes, 26, batted .333/.424/.667 with 33 home runs and 99 RBI in 90 games last year in Cuba.

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.