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2014 MLB Free Agent Profile: Mike Napoli

Relegated to first base, Napoli probably isn't a fit for the Mets.


Drafted by the Angels in the seventeenth round of the 2000 draft, Mike Napoli never got a starting gig as a catcher until 2009, his fourth year in the big leagues. In his time with the team—2006 through 2010—Napoli had a 119 OPS+ with 92 home runs in 1,804 plate appearances.

Despite putting up very good numbers for a catcher, the Angels traded him away before the 2011 season. He and Juan Rivera were sent to the Blue Jays in exchange for Vernon Wells. Four days later, Toronto sent him to the Texas Rangers for Frank Francisco. There's no doubt that the Rangers fared the best in that pair of trades.

In two seasons with Texas, Napoli really broke out. He hit .275/.379/.552 with a 143 OPS+ between 2011 and 2012, and he was excellent in the playoffs in 2011 as the Rangers made it to the World Series. He finally hit free agency at the end of 2012, and after agreeing to a three-year deal with the Red Sox, Napoli wound up settling on a one-year incentive-laden contract because of Boston's concerns about the health of his hip.

With Jarrod Saltalamacchia and David Ross also in the fold, Boston moved Napoli to first base full time in 2013. He hit .259/.360/.482 with a 129 OPS+ and 23 home runs, and he was once again a good hitter in the postseason. Boston gave Napoli a qualifying offer after the season, which he declined.

The cost

Because he declined his qualifying offer—a one-year, $14.1 million contract—Napoli will cost a new team its highest available draft pick in the 2014 amateur draft. As for his contract, Napoli figures to sign at least a two-year deal at an average annual value of the qualifying offer.

The fit

Although it sounds more and more like the Mets will trade Ike Davis this winter, it seems they are content with using either Davis or Lucas Duda at first base next season with Josh Satin available as a platoon partner.

While Napoli has a much longer track record of major league success as a hitter than any of the Mets' internal options and seemed to handle first base capably, the team has more pressing needs in the outfield and at shortstop. Since the Mets might surrender their second-round draft pick to sign a player at one of those positions, it doesn't seem like they'll spend money on a first baseman, even if he is a proven commodity.

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