Rangers avoid arbitration with Mike Napoli at $9.4 million

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From Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors comes word that the Rangers avoided arbitration with catcher Mike Napoli on Saturday night by agreeing to a one-year, $9.4 million contract for 2012.

Napoli requested a salary of $11.5 million and was offered $8.3 million from the Texas front office when arbitration figures were filed last month. It took the two sides about three weeks to find a middle ground.

Napoli hit .320 with a 1.046 OPS, 30 homers and 75 RBI in 113 games last year for the Rangers. The 30-year-old is currently scheduled to become a free agent in the fall, along with D’Backs catcher Miguel Montero and Cardinals backstop Yadier Molina.

In-their-prime catchers never seem to hit the open market. The money could get wild.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.