ARLINGTON -- The Rangers and free-agent first baseman Mike Napoli have a strong mutual desire for a reunion, and the two sides continue to have active discussions about that possibility, according to Major League sources.
Although a deal does not appear imminent, all signs suggest the negotiations are headed in that direction if the two sides can reach an agreement on length and value of the contract.
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Texas is in need of another bat in the middle of its order after losing Ian Desmond, Mitch Moreland and Carlos Beltran to free agency. Napoli would welcome a return to the Rangers after playing here in 2011-12, and again in '15. He remains a fan favorite in Arlington after being a huge part of the Rangers' World Series run in '11, as well as being a strong clubhouse leader.
Napoli, 35, spent this past season with the Indians, hitting .239 with 34 home runs, 101 RBIs and a .465 slugging percentage. But the possibility of returning to the Indians came to an end on Thursday with the news they had reached an agreement with Edwin Encarnacion.
The Rangers right now have Jurickson Profar, Joey Gallo and Ryan Rua as their leading candidates to play first base or fill the designated hitter spot. Shin-Soo Choo could also get a high number of at-bats as DH.
But the Rangers, who were interested in Encarnacion, still want another power bat for the middle of the order, and they are working hard to get something done with Napoli.
Encarnacion going to the Indians may have intensified the Rangers' discussions with Napoli, but the two sides have been in contact since the beginning of free agency following the World Series.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.