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.
Mike Olt is signing with the Red Sox. He said so on his Instagram so it has to be true.
It’s going to be a minor league deal of course, given that the Sox have Pablo Sandoval or Brock Holt at third and Mitch Moreland at first. It’s also worth noting that Olt spent all of last year in the minors. Indeed, his last time in the big leagues was when he played 24 games for the 2015 White Sox and six games for the 2015 Cubs. That Cubs stint came as they pretended that Kris Bryant needed more minor league seasoning, with said seasoning corresponding exactly to how much time he needed to be in the minors in order for the Cubs to manipulate his service time just so. I wonder if Olt felt used. Oh well.
As for Olt himself, he was a first round pick in the 2010 draft for the Rangers who put up some nice numbers in the lower levels of the minors. He has shown almost zero ability to hit at the big league level, but if he’s needed he knows where the clubhouse entrance is and would likely be above average at post-homer high-fives, handing teammates their gloves and taking their batting helmets after inning ending groundouts, etc., and that’s not nothing.
UPDATE: Welp, shows you what I know. The Yankees have signed Carter.
9:29 AM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the Dodgers checked in on free agent slugger Chris Carter. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Yankees are “keeping tabs” on him as well.
The Dodgers report seems odd given that they have Adrian Gonzalez, the NL has no DH, Carter has not played the outfield on anything approaching a regular basis for years and, even when he did, he wasn’t good at it. Add on the fact that the Dodgers are already over the luxury tax threshold, meaning that they’d pay a 50% tax on his salary, and their interest in Carter makes even less sense.
The Yankees are likewise an odd potential destination for Carter. The luxury tax considerations are the same. They signed Matt Holliday to be their DH. Their first base situation is devoted to the future, with Greg Bird and/or Tyler Austin covering it. As Crasnick notes, Carter could be insurance, but the value of such insurance to a team is likely far less than what Carter would agree to sign for.
It’s getting close to spring training and Carter, the reigning NL home run champ, is unemployed. I suspect that, rather than serious interest in him on the part of the Dodgers and Yankees, this is an instance in which his agent, Dave Stewart, is attempting to create the appearance of teams having interest in him.