UPDATE: Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Rangers and Mike Napoli have a deal in place. No specifics on terms have been provided.
12:42PM: Mike Napoli and the Rangers have been rumored to be close to a deal since December. Beginning around that time all rumors connecting him to other teams have basically dried up. It has seemed like the Rangers and Napoli getting together has long been a manner of “when,” not “if.”
Today Jon Heyman sheds some light on the when. Soon, he thinks, reporting that the Rangers and Napoli are progressing towards a deal. It could very well be a situation in which both sides know a deal is happening but that they can’t make it official until camp opens and Texas can place Prince Fielder and Jake Diekman on the 60-day disabled list, making room on the roster for Napoli. Not that reaching a deal before such moves can be made hasn’t happened before.
As it is, Napoli and the Rangers make a lot of sense. While he’s 35, he hit .239/.335/.465 with a career-high 34 home runs and 101 RBI in 2016. The Rangers can’t necessarily expect that again, but he still appears to have a good deal left in the tank and would fill a need for them.
Craig Mish of SiriusXM reports that the Brewers have put together a trade offer for Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich. He describes the club’s interest in Yelich as “strong,” and notes that other teams remain in the mix.
Yelich’s relationship with the Marlins was recently described by his agent as “irretrievably broken” following the trades of Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Dee Gordon. His agent said Yelich “needs to get on with his career where he’s got a chance to win.” Understandably, teams have been calling the Marlins asking about him.
The 26-year-old hit .282/.369/.439 with 18 home runs, 81 RBI, 100 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 695 plate appearances last season. He’s in the fourth year of a seven-year, $49.57 million contract of which $44.5 million remains. Given how slow the free agent market has been this offseason, it’s difficult to say exactly what he would get if he were to hit the open market, but it is safe to say that his current contract is very much a bargain for his team, which only makes him even more attractive to inquiring teams.
The Brewers are an interesting team to get involved in the Yelich sweepstakes. Their outfield already has three capable players in Ryan Braun, Domingo Santana, and Keon Broxton. Yelich would still be an upgrade, but the Brewers’ resources may be better spent in other areas like the starting rotation.
Given Yelich’s displeasure and Jeter’s insistence on stripping the Marlins bare — including, potentially, the iconic home run sculpture — it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see a trade happen.