It once seemed like the Rangers were moving swiftly toward a deal with free agent first baseman Mike Napoli, but nothing has come together as of yet. That may be because Texas is only interested in guaranteeing the veteran a single season, as ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports (Insider link).
It’s not terribly surprising, perhaps, to learn of that stance. With so many other power bats still remaining — even with Mark Trumbo and Jose Bautista now off the market — there’s good reason for teams to look to minimize their commitments in adding defensively limited hitters.
Indeed, we’ve heard before that the Rangers were hoping to see whether Napoli or Chris Carter would settle for a deal to the team’s liking. It seems that may be more than just a temporary bargaining position, though, as Olney suggests that Texas just isn’t interested in Napoli if it means promising him two years’ worth of salaries.
There are certainly some warts on Napoli’s free-agent case, too. He did hit 34 home runs and post a productive .239/.335/.465 batting line last year, but he also struggled badly down the stretch and in the postseason. Likewise, defensive metrics turned on him after previously showing favor toward his glovework at first base. Given that he’s already 35 years of age, Napoli comes with some obvious risks on a multi-year pact.
Still, Napoli is arguably the best-remaining slugger of the bunch. Only Carter compares in terms of right-handed hitters, with Mark Reynolds perhaps representing a bounceback option after an underwhelming 2016 season. But there are still a variety of strong lefty hitters out there, including Brandon Moss, Pedro Alvarez, Adam Lind, and Logan Morrison; any could also draw consideration from teams that don’t have a strong preference for handedness.