Today's player: Mike Napoli
It was just a year ago that the Rangers decided not to give Napoli a one-year qualifying offer, worried that it a little more than $13 million was too much to pay for Napoli if he accepted the offer and didn't stay healthy. It was the beginning of a strange offseason for Napoli, who agreed to terms on a three-year deal with the Red Sox at $39 million during the winter meetings. But contracts aren't complete until physicals are done, and Napoli's physical revealed avascular necrosis in his hip, a degenerative condition. He did finally get a deal, but it was for one year at $5 million, with $8 million in incentives.
Napoli played 139 games and silenced those who believed the hip would be an issue. And he got a one-year qualifying offer from the Red Sox because of it. He hit .259 with 23 homers and 92 RBIs for Boston this season and had some big hits in the postseason.
Napoli, 32, rejected that offer in hopes of a multiyear deal. The Rangers, according to a source, have "checked in" on Napoli, and the club has some interest. But Napoli has also said he wants to stay on Boston, and the Red Sox don't want him going anywhere.
Why he makes sense: Napoli knows Texas and loved playing with the Rangers (who can forget "NA-PO-LI, NA-PO-LI" in 2011?). He would be a great addition to the clubhouse (again) on Day 1. Napoli, a right-handed hitter, can play catcher, first base or DH. With Mitch Moreland on the roster as a power-hitting left-handed batter, there's a natural chance at a platoon there. Napoli is a patient hitter, working counts with regularity. In fact, he was tops in the league in pitches per plate appearance at 4.58. It wouldn't hurt for a team working on being more disciplined at the plate to have Napoli in the lineup.
Why he doesn't make sense: The hip held up in 2013, but there are no guarantees going forward. Napoli rejected the qualifying offer because he wants a long-term deal, so his health has to factor in. And there's one more: It would take giving up a draft pick to get him. While the Rangers will get a pick back if Nelson Cruz departs, they want to be careful about giving up picks.
Bottom line: Brian McCann is a younger player with a longer track record that would give the club a long-term option in the role that Napoli could play. But if the bidding for McCann goes crazy, Napoli would be a nice Plan B. The question: How many years would it take to sign him? Is three too many?