Making official what was reported three weeks ago, the Indians announced their one-year, $7 million contract with free agent first baseman Mike Napoli.
After struggling for the Red Sox in the first half Napoli thrived down the stretch the Rangers and showed enough to make the Indians think he can bounce back to being an impact bat again at age 34.
A low-average hitter with power and plate discipline, Napoli topped a .775 OPS every season from 2006-2014 and has been particularly effective versus left-handed pitching. He’s expected to play mostly first base, paired with Carlos Santana at designated hitter.
Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that the Orioles and Mets are among the teams “involved in talks” with free agent reliever Antonio Bastardo.
It’s been several weeks since reports had Bastardo seeking a deal similar to fellow left-hander Tony Sipp‘s three-year, $18 million contract with the Astros. It’s unclear if teams are actually willing to approach those numbers in pursuing the 30-year-old, but he’s certainly one of the top remaining free agent pitchers and is coming off a good season with the Pirates.
Bastardo has a 3.58 ERA in 316 career innings, including a 2.98 ERA and 64/26 K/BB ratio in 57 innings last season. His control comes and goes, but his slider is fantastic and he misses tons of bats.
Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports that the Marlins “are closing in on a deal” with free agent right-hander Edwin Jackson and it’s expected to be a major-league contract.
Jackson was a huge bust for the Cubs as an expensive free agent starter, but turned his career around somewhat in a relief role last season with a 3.07 ERA and 40/21 K/BB ratio in 56 innings.
Despite seemingly being around forever Jackson is still just 32 years old and he could work his way into a setup role for the Marlins pretty easily.
Denard Span is four months removed from hip surgery and trying to find a new home as a 31-year-old free agent, so the former Nationals and Twins center fielder took to Twitter with this video showing him jumping hurdles:
Span has been linked to a few teams recently, but most interested suitors seem understandably hesitant to make a multi-year commitment given his uncertain health status.
When healthy he’s consistently been an above-average all-around center fielder, hitting .300 in both 2014 and 2015 while topping a .700 OPS in each of the past four seasons.
Back in August the Braves and Indians swapped bad contracts, with outfielders Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn heading to Atlanta and infielder Chris Johnson heading to Cleveland.
Last month the Indians released Johnson, choosing to simply eat the $17 million left on his deal rather than keep him around in a part-time role. And now Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that the Braves “are trying to trade at least one of” Swisher and Bourn “with the understanding the team would have to eat a significant portion of the salary.”
In other words, the Braves have decided it’s not worth having Swisher and Bourn around as part-time veterans on a team likely to be pretty awful in 2016. However, actually trading them may prove difficult even if Atlanta eats a bunch of money because both Swisher and Bourn have declined significantly in recent years.
Swisher hit just .204 with a .617 OPS in 173 games between 2014 and 2015, and at age 35 he’s owed $15 million. Bourn is owed $14 million, hasn’t topped a .700 OPS since 2012, and no longer makes up for the lack of hitting with great speed or defense. It’s possible the Braves will end up releasing them just as the Indians did with Johnson and swapping them for a different bad contract is also an option.