There are plenty of reasons for MLB teams to be interested in signing free agent Mike Napoli for the 2017 season. Here are just a few.
With the Cleveland Indians’ signing of Edwin Encarnacion, all signs point to their first baseman and designated hitter from last season, Mike Napoli, finding a new home this offseason. If he does not sign with one of his former teams, it will be his fifth team and his fourth in three seasons. Napoli is still a productive option with the bat with 34 home runs and 101 runs batted in last season (both career highs), although his batting average dipped to just .239.
At the age of 35, Napoli will be signing a short-term deal. His glove isn’t the best and he has a long injury history, but that won’t stop a team from picking him up. Napoli has made a major impact in the game since his debut as a catcher for the Angels back in 2006 and he brings a lot to the table when he is on the roster.
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Napoli is a winner
In 11 big league seasons, Napoli has appeared in the postseason eight times. Those appearances have not been short samplings, either. In those eight postseason appearances, his teams have been to four American League Championship Series and have made the World Series three times. Each of those World Series appearances came with a different team (Rangers, Red Sox and Indians) and he was victorious in one with the Red Sox in 2013.
A player doesn’t make it to eight postseasons in 11 seasons by being a cancer in the clubhouse. Napoli has been known to be a clubhouse leader during his big league stops. When the Cubs were preparing for the World Series against the Indians this past year, they listed Napoli as a big reason why the Tribe would be a tough opponent. Cubs players who played alongside him on the Red Sox during the 2013 run (John Lackey, Jon Lester and David Ross) pointed out his ability to unify a team and how he was a leader in a clubhouse that was a “zoo” before his arrival.
While Napoli does not hit for average, his power numbers are still high. He is a feared hitter who can be a middle of the order headache for opposing pitchers. He has the ability to get big hits when he needs to and his strength is hulking. His defense is nothing special, but his bat makes up for it. He is still a power bat that can be a productive designated hitter for any team that brings him on.