Scott Kazmir appears to be the front-runner for Cleveland’s fifth starter spot

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I noted the general enthusiasm surrounding Scott Kazmir when I was at Indians camp last week. Now a guy who is at Indians camp every day notes that this enthusiasm has grown to the point where, in his view, the fifth starter’s spot on the Tribe is Kazmir’s to lose. Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon-Journal:

Francona has offered few hints as to which way he is leaning, if he’s leaning at all. The only clue that he might favor one pitcher over another is his continuous glowing praise for Kazmir, virtually from the first time he threw a ball in camp. And Kazmir certainly seems like the front-runner, even if one disregards Francona’s tributes.

One just needs to look at the numbers. Kazmir has pitched three times in exhibition games and one B-game against minor leaguers. He hasn’t allowed any runs and his peripherals look solid. Granted it hasn’t all been against top opposition, but his velocity and control looks good.

Kazmir could flame out again and, if he does, the Indians haven’t really lost a thing. But if he’s even an average starter in 2013 it’s a huge boon to them. And to him too.

 

Rangers will not exercise Mike Napoli’s 2018 option

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The Rangers have informed 1B/DH Mike Napoli the club will not exercise his 2018 option, worth $11 million, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. Instead, the Rangers will pay Napoli $2.5 million to buy him out of his contract, making him a free agent.

Napoli, 35, hit a disappointing .193/.285/.428 with 29 home runs and 66 RBI in 485 plate appearances this past season. Given his age and declining production, it’s not shocking that the Rangers want to look elsewhere.

Napoli turns 36 at the end of the month. Given his age and worsening peripheral stats, he will likely have to settle for a one-year deal this offseason.