Chris Sale is “going through a little dead-arm period”

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Chris Sale’s transition from reliever to starter has gone exceptionally well, but the left-hander admitted yesterday that he’s now “going through a little dead-arm period” and the White Sox plan to give him some rest.

Sale made it clear that he doesn’t think the issue is anything serious, telling Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that it’s “nothing anyone else doesn’t go through.”

However, his velocity has dipped in recent starts and Sale has already logged 124 innings after throwing a total of 71 as a reliever last season. He’s also allowed five runs in back-to-back starts after going 11-2 with a 2.11 ERA through 17 outings.

Chicago also gave Sale some extra time off around the All-Star break and manager Robin Ventura indicated that they’ll wait to see how he feels in the next few days before lining up his next start, saying: “We’re just trying to take care of him.”

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.