Napoli, Ross remain firmly on Rangers' radar

GM Daniels also exploring other free-agent options

Napoli, Ross remain firmly on Rangers' radar

ARLINGTON -- Free-agent first baseman Mike Napoli and pitcher Tyson Ross appear to be exactly what the Rangers are looking for in the waning weeks of the offseason.

That doesn't mean the Rangers will be able to land either -- especially if they are only offering one-year contracts -- and general manager Jon Daniels refused to comment on specific players still available on the free-agent market.

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But Daniels did say Thursday the Rangers are interested in possibly adding a first baseman/designated hitter and more starting pitching before the winter is over.

Rangers showing interest in Ross

Napoli seems to be Texas' top choice for adding a power bat to the middle of the lineup, but he is not the only one on the club's shopping list.

"There are a couple of guys we have to look at," Daniels said. "I don't know if we'll be focused on just one. There are a couple of guys we are interested in. We are also open to go with our own guys. If it is the right fit and the right person financially, we'll go down that path."

Napoli, who played for the Rangers in 2011-12 and again in '15, is the right fit after hitting .239 with 34 home runs, 101 RBIs and a .465 slugging percentage for the Indians this past season. But Napoli, who has a strong desire to return to Texas, is looking for a multiyear contract, and the Rangers appear to be offering just one at this point.

The Rangers were more aggressive with Edwin Encarnacion, who officially signed with the Indians on Thursday on a three-year, $60 million contract. Paul Kinzer, Encarnacion's agent, said Thursday the Rangers and the Indians were the two most aggressive teams for his services.

Mark Trumbo, Pedro Alvarez and Chris Carter are among the other power bats still available. But the list for potential free agent first baseman/DH types includes Billy Butler, Ryan Howard, Dae-Ho Lee, Adam Lind, Justin Morneau, Logan Morrison and Mark Reynolds.

Gallo to compete for 1B job?

The Rangers' internal candidates include Joey Gallo, Ryan Rua, Jurickson Profar and rookie Ronald Guzman. The club will likely add veteran depth even if it doesn't get a front-line power bat.

The remaining starting pitching pool is not as deep, but the Rangers met face-to-face with Ross on Wednesday during his trip to Arlington. The Cubs are also considered strong suitors for Ross.

Texas has a rotation of Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish, Martin Perez and Andrew Cashner. The leading candidates for the fifth spot are A.J. Griffin and Nick Martinez.

"Most of the conversations we are having are with guys who would come in and compete for the fifth spot," Daniels said. "There are a couple of scenarios where we are considering Major League contracts, but most of the conversations we are having are for non-roster spots."

One of the problems for the Rangers is one of their 40-man roster spots is being taken up by Prince Fielder, who suffered a career-ending herniated disk in his neck this past season. He is still signed for four more years and can't be released because it would prevent the Rangers from collecting insurance on his contract. He can't be put on the 60-day disabled list until Spring Training.

"It is a disadvantage," said Daniels, who added that the Rangers aren't likely to re-sign pitcher Colby Lewis, who has been with Texas for the past seven seasons.

"The door is always open … I don't know how best to describe it," Daniels said. "There will always be a fondness and a value we place on Colby for both what he has done between the lines and what he does for all of us as a man. But I don't foresee us doing anything at this point."

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.