Mike Napoli Rumors
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe credits Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly for not avoiding difficult subjects. Mattingly has been less than thrilled with the club, which hasn't produced much despite its hefty price tag. “They wanted to make a big splash with the new ownership,” said an American League executive. “They wanted to show their fans they were going to spend the money and put what they thought was the best team on the field money could buy. Well, not so much. You can win with All-Star teams. The Yankees have won with one. But the mix has to be right.” As far as Cafardo is concerned, Mattingly doesn't deserve to be fired. Here's more from today's column..
- Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli has not heard from the club on an extension. Meanwhile, he has told his agent, Brian Grieper, that the environment around the team is even better than it was in Texas, which Napoli thought was great. Grieper said he’s open to talks, but “we’ll let it play out and show during the course of the season that Mike is healthy.”
- The combination of Elliot Johnson and Chris Getz at second base isn't getting it done for the Royals and they're on the lookout for help. It won't be easy, however, and with Miguel Tejada now 39, he wouldn’t seem to be the answer, either. The Royals knew coming into the season that they might struggle offensively at the position, and they have.
- Chris Bootcheck is having a resurgence at the Yankees’ Triple A affiliate, posting a 2.80 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. The Yankees haven’t called the right-hander up yet and he has a late-June opt-out. If he’s still pitching well, he would be in demand.
- If Reid Ryan's thinking is similar to his father's, then there might not be much room for a lot of statistics-driven analysis with the Astros under their new regime.
- Some have wondered if Roy Oswalt has lost the fire to pitch. He'll have four starts for the Rockies' Double-A affiliate to show that he's still got it and worthy of a callup to the big league roster.
Here's a look at the latest edition of Full Count from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports..
- Chase Headley is probably going to be traded by the July 31st deadline. The Padres plan to spend the next two months determining whether they can lock up the third baseman long term, but there are two problems with that. For starters, Headley says he doesn't want to talk about a new deal during the season. Secondly, it would be surprising to see San Diego crack $100MM to keep him. Headley probably wants a better hitting environment and to play for a better team. Meanwhile, there's no shortage of teams that would like to add him as Rosenthal says there could be at least a dozen clubs in the market for a third baseman, including the Dodgers, Cubs, and White Sox.
- If Mike Napoli stays healthy and continues producing, the Red Sox first baseman will build his case for a multi-year deal in free agency. Of course, Boston reduced their three-year offer to Napoli to one-year after learning he had a condition in both hips. However, he's taking MRIs every three months to keep tabs on it and if the tests show that his condition is improved or stable, a team might be willing to extend a longer offer, especially since he's playing first base rather than catcher.
- Josh Johnson is the Blue Jays' most obvious trade candidate but if the season becomes a train wreck, they'll have the ability to move virtually any player. Jose Reyes is the only player signed beyond 2015 while most players on multi-year deals are signed at affordable prices and no one has a no-trade clause. Brandon Morrow might be an interesting name as the club has lots of young pitching coming. Of course, the Blue Jays have to fall out of things before considering such a move.
- It's bad enough for the Angels that shortstop Jean Segura is blossoming into a star elsewhere, but they've also traded away an entire rotation's worth of talent in recent years. The Halos sent Patrick Corbin and Tyler Skaggs to Arizona for Dan Haren, Donn Roach to San Diego for Ernesto Frieri, and Johnny Hellweg to Milwaukee in the Zack Greinke deal. On top of that, the Angels weakened their farm system by giving up their first and second round picks last year for Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson and their first round pick this year to ink Josh Hamilton. Their top pick last year was No. 114, this year it'll be No. 59.
Yesterday morning, Tim Dierkes asked MLBTR readers to choose the best GM in baseball, and over 26,000 people voted. With the Athletics' Billy Beane in the lead with over 3,600 votes, several executives have failed to pass the century mark in total votes: the Marlins' Larry Beinfest (70 votes); the Padres' Josh Byrnes (84); and the Rockies' Bill Geivett (41). A few random links for the morning:
- Yesterday, Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan broke down the latest on baseball's ongoing TV deal saga. He writes that the Phillies are looking good to become the latest team to benefit from a bidding war. Passan predicts that the Phils will ultimately get a $4-5 billion deal, allowing the team to keep its top-level payroll.
- The Angels are prepared to try to restore their major presence in Latin America with the opening of their new facility in the Dominican Republic, according to MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. Gonzalez explains that the team will likely ramp up its international spending as it looks to get back to its prior track record in Latin America, which includes players like Erick Aybar, Kendrys Morales, Francisco Rodriguez, and Ervin Santana.
- Speaking to WEEI's Alex Speier, Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli recounted his trade to the Blue Jays in January 2011. Napoli cut short a cruise in Mexico due to the Jays' urgency for him to take a physical, and then found it odd when no one from the team's front office welcomed him. He was traded to the Rangers a few days later.
- Padres pitchers Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard "could become prime trade candidates" when Cory Luebke and Joe Wieland return from Tommy John surgery, opines Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, assuming the veterans start pitching better. It's been a strange April for Volquez, whose strikeouts and walks are both down significantly. Richard, always a pitch-to-contact type, has seen his control abandon him and almost a quarter of his flyballs leave the yard.
The struggles of Jackie Bradley Jr. serve as a reminder that Spring Training stats are a mere "snapshot in time," writes SB Nation's Rob Neyer. He adds that Spring Training stats "describe the random nature of raw performance statistics as much as they describe fundamental abilities." Here are some links from around the league...
- The excellent play of Endy Chavez is going to force the Mariners to make a roster decision, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. With Michael Saunders coming off the DL next week, the team will have to make a move or carry six outfielders. Jason Bay seems like the most logical candidate as the odd man out, in my personal opinion.
- There was a point this offseason where Brian Grieper, Mike Napoli's agent and friend, thought Napoli's career in baseball was over, writes WEEI.com's Alex Speier. Napoli was diagnosed with avascular necrosis in both hips this offseason but has been healthy through the early portion of the season.
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak is comfortable with the relievers he has despite the bullpen's struggles thus far, reports Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. As Strauss notes, it's difficult to find help from outside the organization at this point in the season.
- The Marlins were never interested in Francisco Rodriguez, tweets Juan C. Rodriguez of the Miami Sun-Sentinel. K-Rod signed a minor league deal with the Brewers yesterday.
- Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times writes that Padres president Tom Garfinkel apologized for the behind-closed-doors comments he made about Zack Greinke which were linked to the public. Garfinkel said flatly that Greinke threw at Carlos Quentin on purpose and also made comments which hinted at Greinke's previous battles with social anxiety disorder.
Jack Zduriencik is still the right person to serve as the Mariners' GM, Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times contends. Brewer points to a strong farm system (which includes the likes of Taijuan Walker, Mike Zunino, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton) as evidence that Zduriencik's plan is working. The Mariners have only had one winning season since Zduriencik was hired, however. "I can't say that I'm happy, can't say that I'm satisfied at all," Zduriencik said. "Because, at the end, it's about the finished product at the big-league level and all of these kids becoming what you want them to become." The M's finished 75-87 in 2012. Here are more notes from around the majors.
- The Red Sox clubhouse feels "eleventy-billion times better" than it did in 2012, writes John Tomase of the Boston Herald. The team's decision to replace Bobby Valentine with John Farrell is part of that, Tomase argues, but so is the fact that new additions Ryan Dempster, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Joel Hanrahan, David Ross, Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew weren't around during the Red Sox's ugly 2012 season.
- Napoli will be an impact hitter for the Red Sox in 2013 because he will no longer catch, Michael Silverman argues, also in the Boston Herald. "Now there’s more of a flow to everything," Napoli says. "It’s a tough position — catching and good-hitting catchers are tough to find. It’s just a grind — a grind that I do miss, but I don’t miss." Napoli caught in 72 games for the Rangers last year, but the Red Sox signed him to an incentive-laden one-year deal for 2013 with the plan that he would play first base, where, Silverman writes, he has looked "nimble and sure-handed" this spring.
- The Dodgers "do not appear close" to trading one of their starting pitchers, writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Since the Dodgers cannot ship Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano or Ted Lilly to the minors without those players' consent, teams may simply wait for the Dodgers, who don't have roster space for all their starting pitching, to become more desperate. The Orioles, Brewers and Pirates "have expressed interest" in the Dodgers' surplus arms, Shaikin notes, but the Rangers are not a likely trade partner.
The Mets could have kept R.A. Dickey and sent Jon Niese to the Blue Jays for prospects Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard this offseason, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. One of Martino's sources said the Blue Jays have always loved Niese. “They absolutely would have done that,” the person said. Some Mets people actually preferred Dickey to Niese, according to Martino. The Blue Jays ultimately acquired Dickey from the Mets for a package of players including d’Arnaud and Syndergaard.
Now for some more links related to the AL East...
- Mike Napoli told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that the environment in Texas "was awesome" because of a great core group of players. The 31-year-old said he kept talking to the Rangers during his time as a free agent but decided to sign with the Red Sox after speaking to GM Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell. “I think going through the whole thing I was hoping we would work it out in Boston,” Napoli told Bradford. “The role did play into it, but I think going into it and other teams being involved I still had my mind set that I was going to come to Boston.”
- While the Red Sox once had 'too much' bullpen depth, health issues have depleted the team's pitching and a spring trade no longer seems necessary, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes.
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney wonders if the Yankees could pursue Scott Rolen, Don Kelly or Russ Canzler in the aftermath of the injury to Mark Teixeira. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post noted earlier today that the Yankees’ alternatives include Carlos Lee and Tyler Colvin.
It took the Red Sox quite a while to finalize their agreement with Mike Napoli this offseason over concern about a potential hip issue. Fortunately, his doctor says that the hip problem was detected early enough to prevent it from getting worse over time, writes Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. The two sides wound up re-working their three-year, $36MM pact into a one-year, $5MM deal with incentives that could boost it to $13MM in total. Here's more from around baseball..
- A source tells Marc Carig of Newsday (on Twitter) that the MLBPA could file a grievance on the Michael Bourn/compensatory draft pick issue, even if the Mets don't agree to terms with the outfielder first. There has been talk of the players union supporting the Mets if they choose to argue against having to surrender a first-round pick to sign a free agent like Bourn.
- It appears that the Mets will face some stiff competition in the NL East as they vie with the Nationals and Braves, but GM Sandy Alderson says that he isn't sweating it too much, writes Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. "I would agree that the Nationals and the Braves appear to be very good teams for '13 and beyond," Alderson said. "But many teams have been described as set up well for the long haul, and it hasn't always worked out as described.
- The Marlins have made former West Virginia football standout Pat White an offer to get back into baseball, but the quarterback and one of his associates told Orlando Alzugaray of 640 AM that baseball is only a Plan B if football doesn't work out, writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. White won't completely rule out going to spring training with Miami, but he is also considering a two-year contract offer the Canadian Football League and has spoken to representatives for at least eight NFL teams.
- The Royals now have three catchers on the 40-man roster after claiming George Kottaras earlier today, but GM Dayton Moore isn't sure how many backstops will make the cut for Opening Day, writes Pete Grathoff of The Kansas City Star. The 29-year-old Kottaras will earn $1MM this season and will remain under team control as an arbitration eligible player through 2015.
Mike Napoli’s hip condition led to a restructured contract and what he described today as “a pretty tough offseason.” But avascular necrosis (AVN), the condition affecting both of Napoli’s hips, hasn’t diminished his expectations for 2013. The recently-discovered condition has been symptomless, and was caught at an early stage.
“We’re moving in a good direction and I feel like we’ve got that behind us and are ready to go,” Napoli said on a conference call with reporters this afternoon.
Napoli’s one-year, $5MM contract with the Red Sox includes incentives that can boost the value of the deal to $13MM. The sides readjusted their initial three-year, $39MM agreement after Napoli’s physical revealed that he has AVN.
The 31-year-old said he was initially “shocked” to discover that he had the condition. He played through it in 2012, when he hit 24 home runs, and the Red Sox expect he can be similarly productive this coming season. They’ll rely on Napoli at first base because they want him to stay healthy and they already have ample catching depth.
“There’s no reason Mike Napoli won’t be our primary first baseman in 2013,” Boston general manager Ben Cherington said. “That’s what we’re counting on.”
The Red Sox would be comfortable relying on Napoli as a catcher, Cherington added. That said, the team wanted to add offense at first base given the presence of catchers Jarrod Saltalamacchia, David Ross and Ryan Lavarnway. On offense, Cherington expects Napoli will see pitches, get on base and hit for power -- especially given Fenway Park’s dimensions.
Napoli said he expects playing first base will be easier on his body than catching, and that he plans to be ready on Opening Day. After consulting with many doctors he started taking medication for AVN, which has also affected prominent athletes such as Bo Jackson and Brett Favre.
Napoli remained a free agent after the initial deal caused a delay, and other teams inquired about the possibility of signing him. Agent Brian Grieper of Paragon Sports International said he listened to interested teams and outlined different options to Napoli. However, the Red Sox were patient and supportive throughout the process, Grieper said. While Napoli initially sought a multiyear deal, he wanted to play in Boston instead of returning to the Rangers or signing with another club.
“I had a great two years in Texas and enjoyed my time there,” he said. “The best fit for me was in Boston.”
It took a while, but the unexpectedly lengthy process led to a deal that has both sides looking ahead hopefully at the 2013 season.
Here's a look at the latest out of the AL East..
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com has the details of Mike Napoli's contract with the Red Sox. The base of the deal is $5MM but incentives could boost the overall value to $13MM. The catcher can either hit the $13MM mark by achieving benchmarks in days on the active roster and plate appearance bonuses or can simply nail a "catch all" by being on the active roster for more than 165 days.
- The Rays would obviously like to keep ace David Price in the fold, but they may not be able to hold on to him long-term. Price says that he would like to find middle ground with the Rays on a contract extension, but cautions that he won't "sell himself short", writes Yahoo's Tim Brown. The American League Cy Young Award winner is set to hit the open market three seasons from now.
- The Red Sox have a logjam behind the plate but they have yet to ask Jarrod Saltalamacchia about playing first base in 2013, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. For his part, Salty says that he feels that catcher is his natural position. The 27-year-old would appear to be a trade candidate given Boston's surplus.
It took a while, but the Red Sox have officially signed Mike Napoli. The sides have completed a one-year deal worth $5MM plus incentives. The Paragon Sports International client could earn up to $13MM in 2013.
The sides had agreed to a three-year, $39MM contract earlier in the offseason, but the deal didn’t go through as expected. Napoli has a hip issue that prompted the Red Sox to seek protective language in the deal.
However, the 31-year-old remained a top first base target for Boston throughout the process. Despite the hip issue, Napoli expects to be ready for Opening Day, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Napoli drew interest from other teams after the initial delay in finalizing the agreement. Meanwhile, the Red Sox considered other options for first base such as Adam LaRoche and Michael Morse.
The Rangers had re-opened talks with Napoli, ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Ben Rogers reports. The Red Sox could offer more playing time, however, and he ended up agreeing to terms with Boston.
Napoli posted a .227/.343/.469 batting line in 2012, reaching the 20-home plateau for the fifth consecutive season with 24. The right-handed hitter made the All-Star team for the first time in his career, but missed time with a quadriceps injury. Ultimately Napoli fell short of the career-best numbers he posted in 2011: 30 home runs and a .320/.414/.631 batting line. The Red Sox project to rely on Napoli as their primary first baseman, but he did catch 72 games with Texas in 2012.
Napoli ranked 14th on MLBTR's list of top 50 free agents entering the offseason. He wasn't linked to draft pick compensation, as the Rangers decided not to make him a qualifying offer.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Rob Bradford of WEEI.com first reported the agreement, and the value of the incentives. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported the value of the guarantee (Twitter links).