Ryan Dempster almost certainly to get a suspension today

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It’s taken Major League Baseball a good while to decide on punishment — or not — for Ryan Dempster following his clearly intentional plunking of Alex Rodriguez on Sunday night. But Joel Sherman reports that it’s gonna happen today:

 

Again, if they don’t suspend Dempster they are declaring open season on A-Rod and are giving every pitcher who intentionally throws at a batter a solid defense against discipline. What’s more, the league would give A-Rod and his attorneys ammo for their “MLB is out to get us” talking points. The league may not like Rodriguez all that much, but suspending Dempster is the only smart play here.

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.