Darren Oliver wants a raise to return to Blue Jays for another season

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The Blue Jays exercised their $3 million club option on Darren Oliver earlier this winter in hopes of convincing him to come back for another season, but there’s still no resolution with the 42-year-old left-hander.

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that while Oliver wants to play, he’s not willing to return unless the Blue Jays increase his salary for 2013. His reasoning is that he would rather retire than be away from his family at a salary below the market value.

According to Rosenthal, Oliver figured that he would likely hang it up after 2012 when he signed with the Blue Jays last offseason, but he’s coming off a 2.06 ERA in 56 2/3 innings and a sub-3.00 ERA in each of the past five seasons. In a world where fellow left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt got a three-year, $18 million contract from the Giants, he’s trying to leverage his situation into a better deal. The Blue Jays aren’t blinking yet, as Rosenthal was told by a source that they might need to make some moves just to accommodate his $3 million salary for 2013.

One long-rumored compromise is a trade back to his hometown Rangers, where he pitched from 1993-1998, 2000-2001 and 2010-2011. Rosenthal writes that the veteran southpaw “would welcome” that outcome and would likely be more flexible with his financial requirements if he could be closer to home. There’s no indication that a deal is close, though.

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.