Texas Rangers

Winter meetings notes: Mike Napoli’s return to Texas Rangers appears unlikely

With Mitch Moreland and Prince Fielder set at first base and designated hitter, Mike Napoli, above, likely wouldn’t be a good fit for the Rangers in 2016.
With Mitch Moreland and Prince Fielder set at first base and designated hitter, Mike Napoli, above, likely wouldn’t be a good fit for the Rangers in 2016. Star-Telegram

Mike Napoli’s return to the Texas Rangers is looking more and more like a fleeting possibility.

General manager Jon Daniels said the club is unlikely to sign Napoli, with Mitch Moreland and Prince Fielder already ensconced at first base and designated hitter, Napoli’s primary positions.

“It doesn’t really work if we have three first basemen/DHs for a whole season,” Daniels said. “As much as we’d love to make it work.”

Daniels, manager Jeff Banister and the players would appreciate having Napoli back for his team-first spirit. His willingness to play left field in 2015 for the first time in his career speaks to that. He’s expressed a desire to keep working at it in spring training, too.

But considering their roster needs — a starting pitcher and an experienced outfielder — the Rangers are likely to re-sign him only if Moreland was traded. And the Rangers, Daniels said, are not looking to trade Moreland, who is coming off his best season in the big leagues.

“I love that fact that he wants to do it,” Daniels said of Napoli. “But to sign him and bank on [him platooning with Josh Hamilton in left], I’m not totally comfortable doing that.”

Beltre’s future

Third baseman Adrian Beltre’s contract ends after the 2016 season, but the Rangers hope he remains on the roster until he decides to retire. He turns 37 in April. The club hasn’t yet discussed an extension with Beltre, Daniels said, but that is the plan.

“It’s important to us, we would like him to be here,” Daniels said. “He’s one of our best players and one of the best players in the game.”

Gallardo’s market

Fort Worth-area resident Yovani Gallardo is hoping to land a four-year deal, a league source said. Gallardo, who pitched for Texas in 2015, declined the Rangers’ one-year qualifying offer of $15.8 million. The Astros and Orioles are among the teams interested, a source said, but not the Rangers.

Rule 5 draft

A year ago at the winter meetings, the Rangers snagged Delino DeShields from the Astros with the No. 3 overall pick in the Rule 5 draft. On Thursday, Texas has the 23rd pick in the draft. Daniels said the club hasn’t decided if it will draft a player or not.

A year ago, Texas lost Odubel Herrera to the Phillies, who drafted him No. 8 overall. Herrera hit 30 doubles and batted .297 in 147 games in 2015.

High Desert manager

The Rangers are close to naming former All-Star Howard Johnson to manage High A High Desert (Calif.). It’s the lone managerial or coaching position left to fill in the organization.

Fan safety

Major League Baseball recommended increased fan safety measures to all 30 clubs Wednesday after studying the issue since the summer.

Clubs have been encouraged to include protective netting (or another effective protective barrier) that shields fans from foul balls in all field-level seats between the two dugouts behind home plate and seats within 70 feet of home plate.

The Rangers are already in compliance with the proper netting but in a released statement said they are “continuing to explore” more options to protect fans.

The commissioner’s office also recommended clubs put additional emphasis on educating fans of the dangers of foul balls and accidentally thrown bats entering the stands. Reminders to fans to pay attention to the field during each at-bat no matter where they’re sitting has also been encouraged.

The league says it will work with the clubs and online ticket sellers to help determine ways to educate fans at the point of sale which seats are and aren’t behind netting.

“It is important that fans have the option to sit behind protective netting or in other areas of the ballpark where foul balls and bats are less likely to enter,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a release.

Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @StevensonFWST