BY: Richard W. Humphrey
For the twelfth consecutive year, the Rangers have avoided going to a hearing with their arbitration eligible players. Late Saturday, the news broke that the Rangers and Mike Napoli have agreed to a one year contract at $9.4 million. Napoli was the last arbitration eligible Ranger to sign. He had sought $11.5 million, while the Rangers had offered $8.3 million. Lee Stevens in 2000 remains the last arbitration eligible Ranger to go to a hearing.
Napoli becomes the third highest paid catcher in baseball behind Victor Martinez and Joe Mauer. Napoli hit .320 with 30 home runs and 75 RBIs in 113 games last season. He goes into the 2012 season as the Rangers number one catcher, though Yorvit Torrealba will see a material amount of playing time behind the plate, and Napoli is expected to get starts at designated hitter and first base. Both Napoli and the Rangers have expressed an interest in finalizing a contract extension for years beyond 2012. If such an agreement does not materialize, he will be eligible for free agency after the 2012 season.
Jon Daniels later said that the Rangers are now over their 2012 salary budget, and that he does not expect to sign any additional free agents.