Monday, December 3, 2012
Lobby talk: Mike Napoli to Boston?
By Richard Durrett
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Every year at the Winter Meetings we try to update you a few times a day on the buzz and chatter in the lobby. This year, there are a handful of lobbies and all of them are large. So we'll see if that impacts the ability to run into folks. Some of what is reported in this blog is rumors and speculation. But it's fun to discuss. Here are some of the things seen and heard in the lobby this morning:
* The breaking news at this moment is that free-agent catcher Mike Napoli is close to signing a deal with the Boston Red Sox, reports our buddy Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. It's believed to be for three years.
If the deal goes down as expected, it means the Rangers will still be looking for a catcher. A.J. Pierzynski is still out there and perhaps they could look at making a trade (maybe the Blue Jays would be willing to part with some of their excess catching). But the Rangers have shown interest in Napoli after deciding not to make him a $13.3 million qualifying offer. Napoli met with the Rangers on Wednesday and he met with the Red Sox the weekend prior to that one.
* At 7:30 a.m. there were already a few fans in the lobby hoping that Josh Hamilton might show up and they could get some autographs. Hamilton is in Nashville, flying here on the same plane as general manager Jon Daniels (and a few media members, which is why the news got out there quickly). No, they didn't talk about any deals. But Hamilton will presumably meet with some perspective teams and see if there's a longer-term deal out there. It's interesting that the biggest name here at these Winter Meetings hasn't generated a bunch of buzz yet in the lobby because his agent, Mike Moye, prefers to work under the radar and the Rangers aren't commenting either (which is the club's standing policy). We'll see if something breaks on the Hamilton front to get things going.
* Assuming Geovany Soto passes his physical, he'll make $2.75 million with up to $250,000 in incentives, according to an MLB source. Soto is expected to take the physical in the next 48 hours.
* Zack Greinke is the other big name to watch and someone of interest to Texas. His agent, Casey Close, told CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman that he could know in the next 24 to 48 hours if a deal can get done this week. Obviously, once Greinke goes the dominoes could start falling. It's difficult to imagine the Rangers signing both Greinke and Hamilton, with some in the lobby thinking Greinke is going to get more than the 6-year, $144 million deal that Cole Hamels got from the Phillies.
* Sean Burnett's name keeps being tossed about, but the price is expected to be high because Jeremy Affeldt is off the market, meaning Burnett is the top lefty reliever. He's believed to want four years.
* The Rangers remain interested in Koji Uehara, who is great against left-handed hitters and was a key part of the club's bullpen down the stretch. Texas will be checking in on relievers with some uncertainty there besides closer Joe Nathan.