With free agent first baseman/outfielder Mark Trumbo potentially on his way out of Baltimore, the club is showing interest in fellow unsigned slugger Mike Napoli, relays Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Several teams have eyed Napoli this offseason, though his market shrunk when his 2016 employer – Cleveland – agreed to a deal with first baseman/designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion on Thursday.
As is the case with both Trumbo and Encarnacion, Napoli represents a powerful first base/DH option, but he’d likely spend most of his time at the latter spot if the Orioles were to sign him. Chris Davis is entrenched at first, and his presence led the O’s to use Trumbo mostly in right field and at DH in 2016. While Trumbo fared poorly in the grass (minus-11 Defensive Runs Saved, minus-12.5 UZR/150 in 791 innings), his positional flexibility enabled the Orioles to consistently pencil him, Davis and DH Pedro Alvarez into their lineup simultaneously. In return, the Orioles got a major league-best 47 home runs from Trumbo, who batted .256/.316/.533 with a .277 ISO (third in the league) in 667 plate appearances.
With 34 homers and a .226 ISO, Napoli wasn’t quite the power threat Trumbo was in 2016, but his overall output (.239/.335/.465 in 645 PAs) was nonetheless respectable. Further, Napoli has been the more productive of the two since 2011, Trumbo’s rookie season. Napoli slashed .252/.366/.477 in 3,041 trips to the plate during that six-year span, while Trumbo posted a .252/.304/.473 line in 3,411 PAs. Going forward, the 35-year-old Napoli is likely to net a raise over the $7MM salary he made with the Indians last season, but he should still come at both a shorter term and lower annual cost than Trumbo (31 in January).
If the Orioles do indeed regard the well-traveled Napoli as a worthy option, Texas could serve as a roadblock in landing him. The Rangers are reportedly a “strong possibility” to reel in Napoli, and there’s mutual familiarity stemming from his multiple stints with the organization. Napoli was a Ranger from 2011-12 and again for a 35-game stretch in 2015.