Mike Napoli is top free agent priority for Red Sox

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Free agent slugger Mike Napoli has drawn interest from several different organizations this winter. But we can probably already identify the frontrunner.

According to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, the Red Sox have made Napoli their top free agent pursuit and are considering all other potential free agent signings to be secondary. And Boston has enough room in its budget — courtesy of that late-July blockbuster with Los Angeles — to outbid any of the other teams currently vying for Napoli’s services.

Napoli batted .227/.343/.469 with 24 home runs and 56 RBI in 417 plate appearances this past season for the Rangers. He had a career-best .320/.414/.631 batting line, 30 home runs and 75 RBI in 432 plate appearances the season before.

The 31-year-old catcher and first baseman is thought to be seeking a four-year contract.

Orioles “have begun fielding calls of interest” on Manny Machado

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports Thursday that the Orioles “are said to have begun fielding calls of interest” on superstar Manny Machado and “are close to the point of seriously weighing whether to trade him.”

You’d think it would be a no-brainer for the last-place O’s to flip Machado — an impending free agent — for prospects, but Heyman notes there is “still a question whether or not longtime Orioles owner Peter Angelos” will give the go-ahead. One person familiar with the situation put it a “50-50” likelihood. Another suggested that it would take a massive return, which, sure.

Machado entered play Thursday with a sensational .328/.405/.635 batting line, 15 home runs, and an MLB-leading 43 RBI in 49 games. It’d be a real shock if he’s still wearing an O’s uniform by the end of July.

Heyman reported previously that at least nine teams made aggressive plays for Machado this winter, including the Cubs, Phillies, Dodgers, Indians, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, and Cardinals. A whole lot of those teams still make sense here in late May — maybe all of them except the White Sox.