A familiar face is heading to Arlington, and the Party at Napoli’s is getting a change in venue. According to T.R. Sullivan, the Texas Rangers agreed to a one-year deal with free agent first baseman Mike Napoli Monday afternoon. The Rangers have not yet officially announced the agreement, and may wait until they clear a spot on the 40-man roster to do so. Either Prince Fielder of Jake Diekman may be moved to the 60-day disabled list next week.
Mike Napoli Returns to Texas
This will be Napoli’s third stint with the Rangers, and he’s coming back to be the primary first baseman. He’ll have some competition for the job from Spring Training invitees James Loney and Josh Hamilton, who is also making his return to Texas, but Napoli is expected to break camp with the job. His presence also means that top prospect Joey Gallo will probably begin the season in the minors.
The 35-year-old played a key role in securing the American League pennant for the Cleveland Indians last season. He hit an uninspiring .239, but crushed 34 home runs while tallying 101 RBI (both career highs). His .465 slugging percentage was his best such mark since 2013.
In Napoli’s first stint with Texas, he as a star catcher. When he briefly returned in 2015, he played first and left field. The veteran has made the playoffs eight times, and won a Wold Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2013. He’s transformed himself into a good defender at first in the years since his first run with the Rangers, and will add power and a strong locker room presence. Napoli is a fan favorite wherever he goes, and the Texas crowd will be glad to have him back.