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December 03, 2012

Reports: Rangers miss out on Mike Napoli

Reports from Boston have the Red Sox reaching a three-year, $39 million deal with free agent Mike Napoli, who will become their first baseman and leave the Rangers still seeking catching help.

Catching will be a small part of Napoli's duties in Boston. He has said all along that he wants to be a catcher, and his best opportunity to remain behind the plate consistently would have been with the Rangers.

But the Red Sox's three-year deal goes beyond what the Rangers were willing to do. Napoli told the Rangers that he wanted four years at $40 million, said a source, but they were interested in only two years plus an option.

Napoli hit 54 homers in two years with the Rangers, but his 2012 average of .227 dipped 93 points from his career-best in 2011. He also struck out 40 more times in 17 fewer at-bats.

Napoli also struggled to throw out base runners, though he didn't get much help from pitchers holding runners. Would-be base stealers were 42 for 50 against Napoli, and he also allowed eight passed balls.

The Rangers and Geovany Soto agreed on a one-year deal late Sunday, pending a physical. Soto was the Rangers' primary catcher for much of August and September as Napoli dealt with a knee injury. Soto became the catcher of choice for several pitchers, including Yu Darvish, for the way he called games and framed pitches.

Luis Martinez and Konrad Schmidt are the other two catchers on the Rangers' 40-man roster. The Rangers continue to seek a catcher to at least share the load with Soto, and have interest in free agent A.J. Pierzynski.

-- Jeff Wilson

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