The Texas Rangers and Mike Napoli have had an ongoing flirtation this offseason, each expressing interest in the other, but neither being willing, or able, to consummate a deal.
The Rangers signed first baseman James Loney to a minor league deal yesterday, and almost immediately thereafter, T.R. Sullivan tweeted that Napoli was still “in play” for the club.
Today, Evan Grant tweeted that he thinks Napoli ends up signing with the Rangers by February 1, barring a freak injury for someone with another club.
And of course, yesterday, Adrian Beltre said he would like the club to add another bat.
At this point, just reading the tea leaves, I feel like it would be a minor upset if Napoli didn’t sign with Texas. The Rangers aren’t moving on, say, Chris Carter, or Pedro Alvarez, which seems to indicate that they have some degree of confidence about the likelihood of landing Napoli. And there doesn’t seem to be a lot of movement on Napoli on other fronts.
It may be, as Evan suggests, that Napoli is just biding his time and waiting to see if some other club blows him away before going ahead and signing what I’d wager will be a one year deal with the Rangers.
If Napoli were to sign, the Rangers would appear to be positioned to have a lineup that looks something like this:
Gomez — CF
Choo — RF
Beltre -- 3B
Mazara — LF
Lucroy — C
Odor — 2B
Napoli — 1B
Elvis -- SS
Profar/Rua — DH
If Napoli doesn’t sign, well, you figure they’d add someone to play first base regularly. And even if Napoli does sign, I tend to think they’re still looking around for a legitimate backup center fielder, or might keep Loney or Travis Snider (both of whom are in camp on minor league deals) on the major league roster in a part-time role.