9:47am: The Indians remain interested in re-signing free agent first baseman/designated hitter Mike Napoli, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, who tweets that Chris Carter, Mitch Moreland and Adam Lind are also on the team’s radar.
Napoli was a key member of the American League champions’ offense in 2016, as he hit .239/.335/.465 with 34 home runs in 645 plate appearances. The 35-year-old did that on a palatable $7MM salary, but given the wide interest in him across the majors, a raise is likely. While Napoli is reportedly seeking a three-year deal, the Indians once again want to give him a one-year pact.
As a powerful, high-strikeout, right-handed hitter who provides negative defensive and baserunning value, Carter is quite similar to Napoli. Carter’s also younger (he’ll turn 30 next week) and, on the heels of the Brewers cutting him in lieu of paying him an estimated $8.1MM salary, could come at a cheaper cost than Napoli. Carter’s production last season in Milwaukee was right in line with Napoli’s, as he slashed .222/.321/.499 and amassed a National League-high 41 homers in 644 trips to the plate. He also struck out in 32 percent of PAs and walked at an 11.8 percent clip, while Napoli was at 30.1 and 12.1 in those categories.
Both Moreland and Lind are left-handed hitters, and each was decidedly less impressive than Napoli and Carter in 2016. Moreland, 31, did hit 20-plus home runs for the third straight season (22, to be exact), but the longtime Ranger posted a below-average batting line (.233/.298/.422 in 503 PAs) for the third time in the past four years. The Blue Jays are also in the mix for Moreland’s services, according to Morosi (Twitter link), even though Toronto already has multiple first base/DH types in Kendrys Morales and Justin Smoak.
While Lind had typically been a capable offensive piece entering last season, that wasn’t the case in his only year with the Mariners. Like Moreland, Lind hit the 20-HR mark for the third consecutive season. The 33-year-old nonetheless underwhelmed, though, with a .239/.286/.431 output in 420 PAs.
Adding any of these players would give the Indians the opportunity to continue shifting Carlos Santana between DH and first base in 2017. The seven-year veteran saw more time at DH than first (92 games to 64) last season, which hadn’t happened since 2013.