Orioles sign relief pitcher Evan Meek and outfielder Jack Cust to minor league contracts

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According to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles have signed right-handed reliever Evan Meek to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. And outfielder Jack Cust got the same deal, reports Roch Kubatko at MASN.

Meek will try to revitalize his major league career with the O’s after spending the last two seasons battling shoulder issues. The 30-year-old will be fighting for a middle relief job this spring in camp.

Cust, 35, did not play MLB-affiliated ball in 2013 and spent the entire 2012 season at Triple-A. He batted just .213/.344/.329 in 270 plate appearances with the Mariners in 2011 and will be a longshot to make the Opening Day roster this year in Baltimore.

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.