Jim Leyland’s contract is up after the season and not so long ago there was speculation that Detroit may look to replace him, but obviously reaching the World Series has wiped away any chance of the Tigers wanting to get rid of the 67-year-old manager.
General manager Dave Dombrowski made it clear yesterday that he wants Leyland back, telling Jason Beck of MLB.com:
Jim Leyland is welcome back here. He knows that. He’s in a situation where we want him back, and I’m sure that he wants to come back. I would think that would be the way. But there’s a time and a place for that. It’s not right now.
Dombrowski added that waiting to negotiate a new deal “was really [Leyland’s] preference” and “we’ve known each other so long, we’ll get to this when we need to.”
There’s seemingly little chance of Leyland managing elsewhere next season, but Beck wonders if he might decide to retire if the Tigers win the World Series, like Tony La Russa did last year.
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.