Rangers avoid arbitration with Napoli

Catcher agrees to one-year contract for $9.4 million

By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com | 02/11/12 9:55 PM EST

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have once again avoided an arbitration hearing with any of their players.
The Rangers agreed to a one-year deal worth $9.4 million with catcher Mike Napoli, who was scheduled for an arbitration hearing on Wednesday in Tampa, Fla. Napoli was asking for $11.5 million, while the Rangers were offering $8.3 million.
Napoli can still become a free agent after the 2012 season. A formal announcement is expected on Sunday.

Napoli played in 113 games for the Rangers in 2011 and batted .320 with a career-high 72 runs scored, 30 home runs and 75 RBIs. He started 57 games at catcher and 27 at first base. During the playoffs, he started 15 games at catcher and two at first base.
Napoli goes into the season as the Rangers' No. 1 catcher, but will continue to split time with Yorvit Torrealba. It is expected that Napoli will still see time at first base and designated hitter when he is not behind the plate.
This contract makes Napoli the third-highest paid catcher in baseball. Joe Mauer of the Twins makes $23 million and Victor Martinez, who is out for the season, will make $13 million.
The Rangers had three arbitration hearings scheduled, but avoided them all. They signed Elvis Andrus to a three-year contract and Nelson Cruz to a two-year pact. This is the 12th straight offseason in which the Rangers have avoided arbitration.