Astros lose center fielder Justin Maxwell to a fractured hand

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The Astros got a win over the Mariners on Tuesday to improve to 6-14 on the season, but they announced afterwards that center fielder Justin Maxwell suffered a fractured hand in the game.

Maxwell was injured on a bases-loaded HBP in the third. It scored the Astros’ third and final run of the game in the 3-2 victory.

The 29-year-old Maxwell had started all 20 games in center field for the Astros this season, hitting .234 with one homer and six RBI. A long history of injuries stalled his development throughout his 20s, but he has found a home in Houston, hitting 19 homers in 392 at-bats since being picked up from the Yankees last year.

With Maxwell sidelined, probably for at least a month, the Astros figure to go to Brandon Barnes and maybe Rick Ankiel in center. Barnes has been a nice surprise dating back to spring training, and is 9-for-26 with a homer off the bench this year. Robbie Grossman was called up to help out.

Maxwell, for what it’s worth, is taking it well:

 

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.