General manager Jon Daniels stuck to his general practice Wednesday of not speaking publicly about reported deals with players when he declined to confirm that the Texas Rangers will sign Mike Napoli.
Sources confirmed on Tuesday that the slugger will return to the Rangers on a one-year pact to be their first baseman. The deal is unlikely to be announced until the Rangers are open a spot on the 40-man roster for Napoli next week.
The Rangers can move Prince Fielder, who was forced to retire in August with four years remaining on his contract, to the 60-day disabled list Tuesday after pitchers and catchers report for spring training. In order for the Rangers to collect disability insurance on Fielder’s contract, he must occupy a 40-man spot during off-seasons.
By waiting for a spot to open, the Rangers can avoid the risk of losing a 40-man player to a waiver claim.
Daniels said it was too early to announce anything.
“All winter we’ve been engaged in that first-base/DH market,” Daniels said. “We know Nap. He’s been a player that we’ve talked to, but it’s a little premature for me to handicap anything specific there.”
The deal, which reportedly is worth $8.5 million with a club option, would give the Rangers another big bat in the middle of the lineup and a decent glove to replace Mitch Moreland. Napoli hit a career-high 34 homers in 2016, 12 more than Moreland, and was a Gold Glove finalist in 2015.
Moreland won his first career Gold Glove last season.
The Rangers still see potential roles for the other first basemen who will be in camp, but the more versatile players like Jurickson Profar and Ryan Rua might have an edge at landing a roster spot.