SATURDAY, 6:17pm: Napoli has passed his physical, according to Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer. His deal should be officially announced sometime this week.
WEDNESDAY, 12:35pm: The Indians and first baseman Mike Napoli are in agreement on a one-year contract, pending a physical, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that Napoli will earn $7MM in 2016 and has an additional $3MM worth of incentives built into his contract.
The 34-year-old Napoli will serve as Cleveland’s everyday first baseman in 2016, tweets Rosenthal, indicating that Carlos Santana will shift to the DH slot (though I’d imagine Santana will still see some action at first). That should provide the Indians with a defensive upgrade at first base, though it remains to be seen if Napoli can remain productive in an everyday role having developed such a notable platoon split late in his career.
Napoli batted .224/.324/.410 overall between the Red Sox and Rangers last season, improving greatly upon being traded to Texas (where he was deployed primarily against lefties). Napoli’s 12 percent walk rate and .187 isolated power mark made him a decent overall offensive contributor, but he batted just .191/.283/.320 in 290 plate appearances against right-handed pitching. That’s a stark contrast to his brilliant .278/.391/.563 line against lefties, and the Indians will likely be hoping for more balance in 2016 if he’s to remain in an everyday role. Napoli did show good patience against righties (10.3 percent walk rate) and actually struck out less often versus them than he did versus lefties. A .239 BABIP when facing same-handed pitching dragged down his overall production, so the Indians will hope for a correction in that regard and better overall output from the still-powerful Napoli.