Roberto Clemente Award nominees announced

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The Roberto Clemente Award goes to the Major Leaguer who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.” Paul Konerko and Jimmy Rollins shared the award last year. This year’s nominees were just announced:

Arizona Diamondbacks – Paul Goldschmidt
Atlanta Braves – Jason Grilli
Baltimore Orioles – Brian Matusz
Boston Red Sox – Brock Holt
Chicago Cubs – Anthony Rizzo
Chicago White Sox – David Robertson
Cincinnati Reds – J.J. Hoover
Cleveland Indians – Carlos Carrasco
Colorado Rockies – Kyle Kendrick
Detroit Tigers – Miguel Cabrera
Houston Astros – George Springer
Kansas City Royals – Alex Gordon
Los Angeles Angels – Hector Santiago
Los Angeles Dodgers – Adrian Gonzalez
Miami Marlins – Dee Gordon
Milwaukee Brewers – Jonathan Lucroy
Minnesota Twins – Torii Hunter
New York Mets – Curtis Granderson
New York Yankees – Mark Teixeira
Oakland Athletics – Stephen Vogt
Philadelphia Phillies – Ryan Howard
Pittsburgh Pirates – Andrew McCutchen
St. Louis Cardinals – Adam Wainwright
San Diego Padres – Andrew Cashner
San Francisco Giants – Javier Lopez
Seattle Mariners – Charlie Furbush
Tampa Bay Rays – Chris Archer
Texas Rangers – Adrian Beltre
Toronto Blue Jays – Jose Bautista
Washington Nationals – Denard Span

There’s a fan vote component to this award, in which you go to the Clemente Award website (which is not yet active, actually, but will be later this week) and vote for one of the nominees. The winner of the fan vote basically gets a one vote head start, with that vote added in to votes cast by Rob Manfred, Vera Clemente and a number of former players and some media people.

Sort of a mismosh, I guess, but it’s named after a great guy, so we’ll let it slide.

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.