When the Cleveland Indians signed first baseman Edwin Encarnacion to a three-year, $60 million deal, first baseman Mike Napoli's fate with the Tribe was swiftly sealed. Nevertheless, in the time since then, the Texas Rangers have emerged as the new front-runner for Napoli's services, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN.
Napoli, 35, is coming off a successful 2016 rebound season, hitting .239/.335/.465 with 34 homers and 101 runs batted in while also becoming a fan favorite in Cleveland. Just one season ago, he inked a one-year, $7 million deal with the tribe after an dreadful 2015 campaign which saw him hit only .224/.324/.410 with just 18 homers and 50 runs batted in for both the Red Sox and Rangers, the latter of whom he was in his second stint with. Despite a less than stellar post-season (9-for-51 with one home run), his value is not the least bit diminished.
Early on in the offseason, it seemed almost inevitable that Napoli would wind up with the Indians in 2017, as they expressed a heavy interest in re-signing the veteran. However, when the two sides couldn't agree on the length or money involved in the deal, the Indians looked elsewhere. With the big fish—that being Encarnacion—out of the pond, the market has opened up for Napoli, who considered by some to be one of the next best options at first base. But that may come at a certain price.
At the winter meetings, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reported that Napoli was in search of a multi-year deal. But as time flies and he doesn't sign, those options seem to fade, and another one-year deal may end up being all that's left in the end.