January 25, 2017
Rangers still interested in Napoli
A reunion for Mike Napoli and the Rangers could still be in the cards, but Texas is only willing to go in if it’s on a one-year deal, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. It’s a familiar situation for Napoli, who was reportedly in back-and-forth negotiations with Cleveland over the same terms earlier this winter, before the team signed Edwin Encarnacion to replace him.
As Aaron Gleeman noted yesterday, Napoli is one of the better hitters remaining on the market, but that doesn’t mean he’s offering anything unique. There’s a whole set of sluggers still available who have a similar skill set—Chris Carter, Pedro Alvarez, Adam Lind, and others. Despite Napoli’s career-high home run total last year, getting anything more than a one-year deal at this point is somewhat difficult to imagine, especially in light of how the market has valued his brand of one-dimensional power this year. Napoli’s outlook doesn’t get any better when you consider his age (35) and his injury history (a degenerative hip condition is not the type of thing that’s going to just go away).
Relievers galore, seeking new homes
A handful of relievers still looking for contracts are reportedly drawing interest. The biggest name of the set, Greg Holland—coming off a year lost to Tommy John surgery—is currently a target for the Rockies, the Nationals, and the ever-present “mystery team,” per Jon Heyman. The Dodgers are also looking for a bullpen upgrade via a one-year deal, which could reportedly come either in the form of Jerry Blevins or a reunion with Joe Blanton, according to Ken Rosenthal.
And 36-year-old Craig Breslow is still trying for a shot, after (extremely) limited success last year from pitching in just a handful of games with the Marlins. A showcase this week revealed a new arm angle and strength with “new movement, velocity,” reports Peter Gammons, and more than a dozen teams were in attendance to see it.
What happens to the remainder of Ventura’s contract?
A number of Yordano Ventura’s teammates traveled to the Dominican Republic for his funeral yesterday, along with several members of the Royals front office. While the franchise is still grieving the loss of the 25-year-old pitcher, it will have to start grappling with some of the more uncomfortable questions of baseball and business related to his death: what will happen to the $20 million left on his contract, and who will fill his space in the rotation?
As the death of José Fernández just a few months ago made painfully clear, these questions are never easy and inevitably fraught, and they force an ill-fitting union between the emotional gray area of mourning a human being and the requisite black-and-white conclusions of financial decisions or roster moves. In the case of Ventura, his contract will remain fully guaranteed if his death is determined to be accidental, according to reporting by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
In that situation, the remaining $20 million he was owed by the Royals will go to Ventura’s estate. Because Kansas City had insurance on the contract, they would be reimbursed for part of that. If Ventura’s death is not ruled accidental—if a toxicology report shows that he was drinking and driving, for instance—the remainder of the contract will not be paid out. Unsubstantiated reports that Ventura was robbed after the car crash that killed him could further complicate the situation.