3:30pm: Napoli’s contract comes with a $1.75MM salary in the Majors plus another $3.25MM available to him via incentives, tweets FanRag’s Jon Heyman.
9:08am: The Indians have a minor-league deal in place with veteran slugger Mike Napoli, according to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (Twitter link). If he passes a physical, Napoli will join the organization’s major-league camp. He’s represented by Paragon Sports.
This move reunites the first baseman/DH with the organization he helped lead to a World Series berth in 2016. With Edwin Encarnacion ensconced in the designated hitter role, it seems likely that Napoli — if he earns a roster spot — would most likely serve as a platoon mate for first baseman Yonder Alonso.
Between Napoli’s quality season in Cleveland and his deal to re-join the organization today, the 36-year-old limped to a .193/.285/.428 slash in 485 plate appearances with the Rangers. While he still managed to launch 29 long balls, and was likely unfortunate to carry a .225 BABIP, Napoli’s walk (10.1%) and strikeout (33.6%) rates suffered in comparison to his levels in prior campaigns. He also dealt with a torn ligament in his right hand.
Needless to say, it’s possible to put a positive or negative spin on the undeniably less-than-ideal results from 2017. In a limited role, though, there’s good reason to think that Napoli can still produce at the plate — especially against lefties, against whom he owns a lifetime .892 OPS. And while he’s a poor baserunner who is limited in the field, he has graded out as an average performer at first base over the past three seasons.