The party was at Mike Napoli's in 2016, at least in the power department. He set a career high with 34 homers and eclipsed the 100 RBI plateau for the first time in his career. He also reached double-digit homers for the 11th time in 11 pro seasons, something only Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, and Hanley Ramirez have done in the same time frame. The strikeout gains he was making in recent seasons went by the wayside in 2016 as he nearly set a new career worst in strikeout rate while still maintaining the high walk rate. If prospective fantasy owners set batting average expectations at .240, they'll have no issue rostering the power. The pop comes against righties (27 of 34 homer), but the average suffers (.229 vs .262) against them. His thump should continue to play well now that he gets to play half his games in Arlington following his contract agreement with the Rangers, and it appears he'll continue to head down the Adam Dunn path to retirement.
Napoli signed a contract with the Rangers for one year, $6 million, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. The deal also includes a 2018 club option worth $11 million or a $2.5 million buyout. Napoli's third tour of duty with Texas comes with a possible re-up, and it wouldn't be a shock if he earns it. Though he's 35 years old, he's coming off a career-best 34 homers and 101 RBI with Cleveland. Texas' lineup and ballpark (despite its slight decline in hitter-friendliness) will keep him in a productive spot: He has a career .277/.381/.548 line in games at Arlington. Napoli will help mixed league fantasy owners in the middle or late rounds.
Napoli agreed to a one-year deal with the Rangers on Tuesday pending a physical, TR Sullivan of MLB.com reports. The deal is reportedly done, but the Rangers are waiting until next week to announce it. Napoli has spent time with Texas twice before, where he has enjoyed some of the best years in his career, slashing a combined .277/.381/.548 across parts of three seasons. The 35-year-old is coming off a nice season with the Indians, where he hit .239/.335/.465 with 34 homers and 101 RBI, both career bests. He'll look to pick up where he left off next year as he gives Texas a proven option at both 1B and DH.
Napoli did not receive a qualifying offer from the Indians and is now a free agent, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports. It is possible, and even likely, that the Indians will attempt to bring Napoli back on a multi-year contract, but they did not want to give up a draft pick, so they did not extend the qualifying offer. He will now be courted in a market flooded with offensive-minded sluggers over the age of 30, so he may be forced to sign for less than one would expect, considering he hit 34 home runs last year.
Napoli is out of the lineup for Game 4 of the World Series. The 34-year-old will sit for the first time this postseason, allowing Carlos Santana to move in from left field to first base. Manager Terry Francona will have to decide whether to prioritize offense or defense again in Game 5 before the series shifts back to Cleveland.
Napoli is not in the lineup for Wednesday's game against the Tigers. The rest of the Indians' regulars will return to action Wednesday after much of the team was held out Tuesday following a division-clinching win the night before, but Napoli will get a second straight day off after going hitless in eight of his last nine games. Carlos Santana will man first base for the Indians on Wednesday night.