By STEPHEN HAWKINS, AP Sports Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The Texas Rangers declined their 2018 club options for slugger Mike Napoli and reliever Tony Barnette on Monday, and won’t make a $17.4 million qualifying offer to free agent pitcher Andrew Cashner.
Texas did exercise its $6 million club option for 13-game winner Martin Perez, a 26-year-old left-hander, while Napoli and Barnette became free agents.
Perez, who would have gotten a $2.45 million buyout if his option hadn’t been picked up, had team highs with 32 starts and 185 innings pitched. He became the first Rangers pitcher to make at least 30 starts in consecutive seasons since Matt Harrison in 2010-11.
General manager Jon Daniels said the Rangers wouldn’t make qualifying offers on any of their free agents. That includes Cashner, the Texas native who was 11-11 with a 3.40 ERA in 28 starts in his only season with the Rangers, and center fielder Carlos Gomez.
When Napoli signed last spring to return for his third stint with the Rangers, he got $8.5 million for this year with an $11 million club option for 2018. He will instead get a $2.5 million buyout after hitting a career-low .193 with 29 home runs.
Napoli started 116 games, 90 at first base and 26 as the designated hitter. He didn’t play after Sept. 14 because of a stress reaction in his lower right leg.
Texas had a $4 million club option on Barnette, who will get a $250,000 buyout. He was 2-1 with a 5.49 ERA in 50 appearances this year.
Daniels said the team still has an interest in bringing Barnette back, and is still talking to him.
Rangers haven’t shut the door on Napoli
The GM said the Rangers “haven’t necessarily closed the door on Nap either.” But Daniels said the initial focus this off season is on pitching, and that corner bats aren’t a top priority for position players at this point.
Cashner last November agreed to a $10 million, one-year deal to join the Rangers. He was a first-round pick by the Chicago Cubs out of nearby TCU in 2008.
While the Rangers will stay in touch with Cashner, Daniels said the pitcher is hoping to get a multiyear deal. The GM wasn’t sure if Cashner would have accepted the qualifying offer, but said it was an economic decision by the team not to extend one.
Catcher A.J. Jimenez and right-hander Austin Bibens-Dirkx, who was 32 last May when he made his major league debut after 318 games over 12 minor league seasons, were assigned outright to Triple-A Round Rock and can choose free agency.
Fox Sports Radio 1400 in Texarkana broadcasts the Rangers baseball games.
More MLB baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball