Seattle Mariners Could Pursue Mike Napoli For Big Splash
The Mariners reportedly have interest in World Series contender and power-hitting first baseman, Mike Napoli. Of all the moves the M’s have already made this off-season, the potential addition could be the most influential lineup change for the M’s since the addition of Nelson Cruz.
It’s election day and the Mariners are thinking, “Yes we can… make the playoffs in the near future”. The M’s are trying to cash in on one of the most prized free agents of the 2016 off-season.
Mike Napoli just finished his first, and now, last season with the AL Central winning, Cleveland Indians. Napoli and the Indians came as close at they could to winning a World Series title, only to come up short in the tenth inning of game seven.
With the season now over, the Indians had a chance to sign Napoli to a qualifying offer of $17.2 million by yesterday (Monday) at 5PM. They chose not to, making Napoli a free agent target of the Seattle Mariners.
Now, while the cat is out of the bag that there is interest from the Mariners to sign Napoli, all we know at this point at that “sources” are saying this is true.
However, even with what little information we do know, we can speculate how he would fit in with the Mariners roster.
As of a couple of days ago, the Mariners past first basemen, Dae-Ho Lee and Adam Lind became free agents, leaving Dan Vogelbach as the lone first baseman left on the forty-man roster. Vogelbach is a good piece for the Mariners going forward, but he hasn’t proven himself as an everyday player just yet, even if he’s vowed to do everything in his power to earn a starting spot.
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Napoli, on the other hand, has eleven years of incredible experience. He is a former all-star who has powered homer runs with ease over his tenure in the league. In seven of his eleven seasons in the league, Napoli has smashed at least twenty home runs in a single campaign, twice belting over thirty into the bleachers.
He has also been a doubles machine, racking up at least twenty doubles in seven seasons, including setting a career-high of thirty-eight two-baggers in 2013.
And, what probably looks so promising to the Mariners is the fact that Napoli is coming off his best year in the majors, even at the age of thirty-four. Napoli hit a career-best thirty-four home runs in 2016 and added another personal-best in RBI, driving in one hundred and one men.
Most important about Napoli, especially for the M’s, is Napoli’s ability to play at first base and at catcher.
We’ve already addressed the need for a first baseman, but the problems at the catcher position are equally, if not, more concerning. When the Mariners let go of Steve Clevenger, Chris Iannetta, and Steve Baron, they left two men (Mike Zunino and Jesus Sucre) to play all one hundred and sixty-two games next year.
However, with Zunino’s hitting woes and Sucre’s inexperience, the combo would surely not bring the M’s to a playoff position. This is where Napoli could come in handy. His leadership and experience at both positions -he has played at least five hundred games at each position- could be of huge help.
Napoli, much like the M’s new signing, Carlos Ruiz, will bring great leadership and wisdom to a club who needs a push over the playoff hump. Unlike Ruiz though, Napoli’s power numbers (especially of late) could spell big trouble for opposing pitchers who are already afraid to face Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager. Adding Napoli could make the Mariners one of the wisest and most potent teams in all of baseball.