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Happy birthday, Mike Napoli

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Two-time Texas Ranger Mike Napoli turns 34 today

Leon Halip/Getty Images

One of the more fun stories in a 2015 season that was filled with fun stories was Mike Napoli's return to Texas.  Its weird to think Napoli spent just two seasons in Texas, coming to the Rangers prior to the 2011 season from the Toronto Blue Jays (who had acquired him less than a week earlier in the deal that sent Vernon Wells to the Angels) in exchange for Frank Francisco...Napoli was a fan favorite who had an incredible year with the bat 2011 and a very solid 2012 season.

The Rangers decision to let Napoli leave as a free agent was a controversial one, and after Napoli ended up having a terrific 2013 season for the Red Sox, it was viewed as a black eye for the Rangers' front office, as the team struggled to get production from the first base position that year.

A nice 2014 season was followed in 2015 by a disappointing first half of the season for Napoli, prompting Boston to send him to Texas in August while paying some of his salary.  Napoli finished the year strong for the Rangers, putting up a .295/.396/.513 line in 91 plate appearances, mostly against lefties.

There's been talk about mutual interest in Napoli -- a free agent -- playing for the Rangers in 2016.  Napoli supposedly would like to be an everyday player, however, and the Rangers most likely would be looking at him in a part-time role.  Still, at this stage of his career, Napoli may find it hard to find a team willing to make him an everyday first baseman, and so a bench role with Texas could be in the cards.

I do find myself wondering, though, how well Napoli fits in a projected 2016 roster.  Bringing Napoli, Mitch Moreland and Prince Fielder all back gives you three players who are limited to 1B or DH.  That means your other three bench spots are locked in with backup catcher, utility infielder and backup outfielder who can play center field.  It gives you less positional flexibility...unless the Rangers find someone to take Prince Fielder off their hands, which would free up the DH spot for someone like Josh Hamilton or a rotating group of players.

In any case, I'm sure Mike Napoli will be having a good time today celebrating his 34th.  And we may see some Mike Napoli celebrations in a Rangers uniform in 2016.