After mashing the ball and helping the Cleveland Indians win the American League Pennant, free-agent first baseman Mike Napoli and the Texas Rangers have reached an agreement on a one-year contract, pending a physical.
The team has not announced the move as of yet and are in the process of clearing space on the 40-man roster. Fan Rag Sports' Jon Heyman was the first to report the progression of talks between the two sides this afternoon.
Napoli, 35, will likely be the primary first baseman for the Rangers this season after Prince Fielder retired due to injury and Mitch Moreland left via free agency. The Rangers do have youngster Joey Gallo capable of playing first base, but the team doesn't want to rush him and wants him to receive more seasoning in the upper levels of the minor leagues. Napoli provides a veteran presence on the corner and while this will be his third stint with the team, he has performed quite well in his other stops in Arlington.
Last season with the Cleveland Indians, Napoli hit .239 with 34 home runs and 104 runs batted in. His .465 slugging percentage proves that he still has the capability to hit for power, his one standout tool, and that should play well in Texas, especially as the summer heats up.
Napoli has experienced some of the best seasons of his career with the Rangers. In 2011, he was acquired from Toronto and went on to hit .320, along with 30 home runs and 75 runs batted in, in 113 games. The following year, he made his first trip to the All-Star game as a catcher after hitting 24 home runs and driving in 56 runs.
Napoli is very familiar with the Texas Rangers and provides both veteran leadership and playoff experience for a team looking to take the next step and get back to the World Series. Though his catching days are behind him, the team no doubt hopes he will stay healthy and provide some versatility between first base and designated hitter. As long as he provides power to the lineup, this deal should work out for both sides.