Texas Rangers rumors: Mike Napoli is now the top free agent first baseman/DH on the market, with Edwin Encarnacion off the board, and Encarnacion signing with the Cleveland Indians means Napoli won’t be returning to Cleveland, most likely. As a result, Jim Bowden pegs the Rangers as the frontrunners to land Napoli.
Evan Grant says he would go two years, $25 million for Napoli, but that the guaranteed money might need to get up to $27 million to sign him. If Napoli needs two years guaranteed to sign, I tend to think he won’t end up in Texas, for the same reasons the Rangers didn’t want to go multiple years on Edwin Encarnacion. Napoli is a 1B/DH, the Rangers already have Shin-Soo Choo, who needs to be at DH going forward, and they are likely looking at Joey Gallo as their long-term solution at first base. In addition, Napoli is 35, and while he put up an 800 OPS in 2016, he cratered down the stretch, and didn’t have a great 2015 with the bat. Napoli appears to be the type of player you do one year deals with at this point — especially if, like the Rangers, your need is for a one year solution.
In any case, Encarnacion to Cleveland means the odds of Napoli ending up in Texas are greater today than they were yesterday, and who knows, maybe the Rangers go ahead and guarantee that second year at over $10M per year, despite the fact that both fWAR and bWAR say he hasn’t been worth more than 1 win since 2014, and despite the fact a guy in his mid-30s who strikes out 30% of the time seems like a risky proposition. More likely, the Rangers will bring him back if he’ll do one year, and will pass on him if he wants more, and will look at the next tier of 1B/DH types.
UPDATE — T.R. Sullivan says things are getting “hot” with the Napoli market, and that sources are saying there’s a strong possibility he ends up back in Texas.