The Cleveland Indians have reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with free agent first baseman Mike Napoli. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports was the first to report the deal. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports the deal is worth $7 million and can reach a high of $10 million with incentives.
Sources; Mike Napoli in agreement with #Indians on one-year contract, pending physical.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 16, 2015
Napoli gets $7M plus $3M incentives on Indians deal
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 16, 2015
Napoli, 34, has a career .253 batting average with 204 home runs. He has been in the league for ten years and the Indians will be his fourth team. Napoli spent his first four years with the Los Angeles Angels. He then played for the Texas Rangers for two seasons, and was a part of the team that lost the 2011 World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals. Napoli’s final season with the Rangers in 2012 was one of the best years of his career; he had 24 home runs and 56 RBIs and was voted to his first and only All-Star appearance. He then joined the Boston Red Sox and won his first World Series ring in 2013.
In 2015, Napoli’s production started to decline as he batted .207 with 98 strikeouts in 98 games with the Red Sox. The Red Sox also were not performing to expectations and Napoli lost his starting job at first base to rookie Travis Shaw. Napoli was traded back to the Rangers to be a platoon player against left-handed pitching. He batted .295 with five home runs and 10 RBIs in 35 games. The only opportunity that the Rangers were able to give to Napoli is a backup job in the outfield. The Rangers have Mitch Moreland and Prince Fielder at first base, making them a poor fit for Napoli.
The Indians finished third in the American League Central with an 81-80 record, 13.5 games out of the division lead. Carlos Santana is currently the starter for the Indians, but according to Jerry Crasnick, Napoli will be the full-time starter at first base. Napoli is a veteran with a lot of power who can slide into the middle of the order. Last year Napoli did not have the opportunity to play everyday, but now under manager Terry Francona, he will be a crucial piece to a team looking to meet the expectations they did not in 2015.