Rangers and Mike Napoli have discussed contract extension

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The Rangers may end up spending over $120 million in order to sign right-hander Yu Darvish, but that isn’t going to stop their efforts to lock up some of their core players.

According to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com, the Rangers have had “several conversations” with Mike Napoli’s representatives about a multi-year contract. He earned $5.8 million in 2011 and is arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter.

Napoli, who was acquired from the Blue Jays last January, batted .320/.414/.631 with 30 home runs, 75 RBI and a 1.046 OPS over 432 plate appearances this past season. The 30-year-old was also a monster during the postseason, hitting .328 with a .414 on-base percentage, three home runs and 15 RBI.

It will likely cost a pretty penny to keep Napoli around for the long-term following his breakthrough season, but Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com wrote this evening that “there’s a very good chance” he’ll have an extension by Opening Day based on what he’s heard this offseason.

Durrett reports that the Rangers have also discussed multi-year deals with Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler and Derek Holland this winter, though no deals are believed to be imminent.

Brandon Morrow shut down for the rest of the season

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Cubs closer Brandon Morrow has been out since the All-Star break with a bone bruise and biceps inflammation. In recent days there had been hope that he would be activated in the season’s final two weeks in order to be ready for the playoffs, but that’s not happening: Theo Epstein just said that Morrow is done for the season.

It’s not the first time good expectations for Morrow’s recovery were not met. When he was placed on the DL back in July manager Joe Maddon said he didn’t anticipate Morrow being on the DL for much more than the minimum 10 days. Two months later and here we are.

Morrow, 34, had an excellent season until the arm trouble started, saving 22 games with a 1.47 ERA and a 31/9 K/BB ratio in 30.2 innings. Once he went out the closer’s duties fell to Pedro Strop. Now Strop too is out for at least the rest of the regular season and likely more due to a hamstring strain he suffered last week while running the bases.

Bullpens become a lot more important in the postseason. The Cubs’ bullpen is becoming thinner.