Demoted Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen is starting at Triple-A

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Last night the Mariners demoted closer Tom Wilhelmsen to the minors and today he’s starting a game at Triple-A.

Nothing official has been announced regarding a role change, but Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes that the Mariners “will start building Wilhelmsen’s arm up” and see how he looks.

Not only was the demotion a surprise–he has 24 saves and Thursday’s ugly appearance snapped a streak of five straight scoreless outings–Wilhelmsen has never started a game in the majors at age 29 and was never great as a starter in the minors. He last started regularly at Double-A in 2011, posting a 5.49 ERA in 61 innings.

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.