With Edwin Encarnacion off the table, the market for first baseman Mike Napoli seems to be developing more quickly.
According to ESPN’s Jim Bowden, the Texas Rangers are the frontrunners for Napoli’s services.
The #Rangers are now considered front runners to land Mike Napoli
— Jim Bowden (@JimBowden_ESPN) December 23, 2016
Napoli is coming off a resurgent season in which he hit 34 home runs for the Cleveland Indians en route to the American League pennant. He hit just .239, but with a .335 OBP, he still has solid on-base skills to go with that power. He has also played for Texas before, where he was very popular as part of another pennant winner in 2011. Regarded as a good teammate, it’s probably no coincidence that his former teams have all looked into bringing him back into the fold.
The Texas Rangers are keeping one eye on the Edwin Encarnacion situation.
The free agent slugger remains without a team, but Rangers general manager Jon Daniels didn’t rule out a pursuit.
— Casey Stern (@CaseyStern) December 14, 2016
Translation: it’s all about the money. The Rangers likely see Encarnacion as too expensive at the moment, but if he remains on the market with only modest interest and his price tag comes down, Texas may engage in some negotiations.
It remains unclear where Encarnacion could land. The Toronto Blue Jays remain in touch, and this team has also been linked. What is clear is that his market hasn’t developed like he hoped it would, and that’s why teams like the Rangers are lurking on the periphery.
At least four Texas Rangers prospects could be facing charges in the Dominican Republic over an alleged hazing incident involving an underage teammate.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported on Monday that a group of players are expected to be charged for allegedly holding down a teammate and masturbating him. The players who have been questioned include the younger brother of Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor, also named Rougned, and 19-year-old catching prospect Yohel Pozo. The players involved have been ordered to not leave the Dominican Republic.
More from Passan:
Video of the alleged assault, which took place toward the end of October, was captured and posted on Snapchat, according to sources. A 10-second clip of video, obtained by Yahoo Sports, shows the alleged victim in a Rangers shirt and Rangers shorts laying on a bed with his arms held behind his back and his legs pinned down. At least four men are seen in addition to the alleged victim, whose penis is exposed, grabbed and maneuvered underneath a hand towel. All of the men in the video, including the alleged victim, are seen laughing.
The alleged assault was one of a number of hazing incidents of Venezuelan and Colombian players, some of whom were younger than 18, according to sources. More tenured players shaved the head of at least one new player and forced at least one other to take his clothes off, and sources said police are investigating at least one more allegation of forced masturbation.
The Rangers reported the alleged incident immediately after a staff member informed the team of it, and the players were questioned by Dominican police on Nov. 9. The players have been placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball, and the team issued the following statement to Yahoo Sports:
“The Texas Rangers became aware of an incident at our Academy in the Dominican Republic and we acted promptly to open an investigation. We have reported the incident and are cooperating fully with Major League Baseball and the authorities in the Dominican Republic. With this being an ongoing investigation, we will have no further comment at this time.”
- Texas Rangers
Rougned Odor blasted a two-run, walk-off home run in the ninth inning Tuesday night to give the Texas Rangers a dramatic win over the Seattle Mariners, and one fan decided to celebrate with a vintage boob grab.
This is the type of stuff you can only get away with after a walk-off win.
HAHAHA i can't quit laughing pic.twitter.com/AcqlFC4a5b
— nick pants (@nick_pants) August 31, 2016
The team was pretty excited, too:
can't tell if banny is celebrating or trying to kick odor's ass pic.twitter.com/FS4ddG9onZ
— nick pants (@nick_pants) August 31, 2016
Remember, this is the type of behavior that once got a basketball coach fired. If the Rangers weren’t in first place, that probably wouldn’t fly.
Despite his awful season, Carlos Gomez continues to attract a number of suitors, and he’s reportedly nearing a destination.
According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the Texas Rangers are close to signing Gomez, who was recently released by the Astros.
sources: rangers are close to a deal with carlos gomez
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) August 20, 2016
With Shin-Soo Choo recently fracturing his forearm and possibly out for the rest of the season, Texas has a void in the outfield. Gomez will come for free, and it’s not a terribly high-risk proposition. Two short seasons ago, Gomez was an MVP candidate, and if any of that talent is left and the Rangers can harness it, he could be very useful down the stretch.
At least two other teams reportedly considered Gomez, but Texas seems like the best fit for him at this point.
It would be fair to say that the 2016 Major League Baseball trade deadline was a seller’s market. The advent of the second wild card spot has made it so that more teams believe themselves to be contenders at the end of July, which means there are more suitors for fewer options. That was unprecedented this year, with teams trading top prospects for good, but not great additions.
In addition, teams are coming to understand the value of cost-controlled players who are signed long term. A player who is signed through 2018 is worth more than a player who is signed through 2016, and while teams have always understood this, the difference has only become more pronounced in recent years.
With the 4 p.m. ET deadline passed and the dust settling, now we can look at who did well in the last week. Who came out ahead in a market like this? Several teams, in fact, and not all of them were buyers. Obviously, only time will tell how these deals actually shake out, but at first glance, several teams made themselves better without getting really ripped off.
5) Milwaukee Brewers
Now wait a second, you tell me. How can you start with a team that sold? Well, the answer is that the team that sold did fantastically to maximize their assets.
The Brewers will come in for some criticism because they traded both Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress without getting Texas’s top prospect, Joey Gallo, in return. It’s a fair criticism, but that minimizes the fact that they managed to land Texas’s No. 2 and No. 3 prospects instead. Lewis Brinson, a young center field prospect, is highly regarded and came in at No. 30 on Baseball America’s preseason Top 100 Prospects list, while Luis Ortiz was No. 74 and is also very highly rated.
Even more impressive was the haul they got from the San Francisco Giants in a deal for reliever Will Smith. Smith is good, but he’s been dealing with some injuries and his numbers have been worse across the board in 2016 than they were in 2015 (3.68 ERA, 1.227 WHIP). In return, they received catcher Andrew Susac, who can step in and start immediately now that Lucroy is gone, and another top 100 prospect in pitcher Phil Bickford, who was San Francisco’s first round pick in 2015. Of course prospects are never guaranteed to turn into anything, but the Brewers got three within the top 100 in the span of a few hours. That’s a win for general manager David Stearns and company.
4) Cleveland Indians
The Texas Rangers have made the biggest splash of deadline day, acquiring catcher Jonathan Lucroy and reliever Jeremy Jeffress from the Milwaukee Brewers for a package of prospects.
The Rangers managed to do it without trading top prospect Joey Gallo as well.
Rangers get Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress, according to source.
— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) August 1, 2016
Rangers will give up Lewis Brinson and Luis Ortiz in Lucroy/Jeffress deal.
— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) August 1, 2016
Joey Gallo not in the Lucroy deal, per @Sullivan_Ranger. Says it's Lewis Brinson and Luis Ortiz.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 1, 2016
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) August 1, 2016
To be clear, this is no small price to pay. Ortiz is one of Texas’s best pitching prospects, while Brinson is viewed as a potentially elite center fielder. Still, to hang on to Gallo, outfielder Nomar Mazara, and infielder Jurickson Profar is a big deal for them, especially when Lucroy and Jeffress weren’t the only ones Texas acquired on Monday.
Jeffress has been Milwaukee’s closer in 2016, posting a 2.22 ERA and 27 saves. Lucroy, of course, is one of the game’s premier catchers both offensively and defensively. The Rangers are not on his no-trade list, which means we will avoid a repeat of this awkward situation. He is under team control through 2017.