Manny Machado could start a rehab assignment next week

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MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli reports that Orioles third baseman Manny Machado could begin a rehab assignment next week. And Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes that Machado will play third base in an extended spring training game on Saturday. It’s great news for the Orioles, who have been without their star third baseman but may soon see his return as soon as early May.

In recent days, Machado has batted in simulated games, done wind sprints, and ran the bases — all necessary steps for Machado, who ruptured his left medial patellofemoral ligament last September.

In Machado’s absence, the Orioles have relied on 22-year-old prospect Jonathan Schoop at third base. Schoop, however, has struggled at the dish, entering Friday night’s action with a .244/.244/.415 line. Ryan Flaherty has also started a few games at the hot corner, but has produced a paltry .469 OPS.

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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.