Over the weekend Mike Napoli and the Rangers avoided arbitration with a one-year, $9.4 million deal, but the ankle injury he suffered in Game 6 of the World Series continues to bother the catcher and figures to limit him at the beginning of spring training.
“The fact he’s still feeling it a few months later speaks to what he went through to play the rest of Game 6 and go back out for Game 7,” general manager Jon Daniels told Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News. “It was about as bad as it looked to the rest of us.”
When he initially suffered the injury running the bases it seemed impossible that Napoli would remain in the game, yet he stayed in and then played (and caught) Game 7 too. Given what we know now about the injury that’s pretty damn amazing, although it may not have been a smart decision for Napoli long term if he’s still limited six months later.
Fraley speculates that the situation could keep Napoli from expanding his regular season workload behind the plate, although the Rangers’ team doctor recently examined his ankle and found no structural damage. Yorvit Torrealba, who started for much of the season before giving way to Napoli in the playoffs, is still around as the Rangers’ backup catcher. And the 30-year-old Napoli is eligible for free agency next offseason.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.