In honor of valentines day, I have a love story for you: the Rangers have re-united with Mike Napoli this week. The deal is all but done, though a physical is pending. We haven’t gotten any confirmation from the Rangers or Napoli, however we have multiple sources confirming that a deal has been done. From what we know, it looks like he has agreed to a one year, 8.5 million dollar deal, with an option for 2018. These numbers could be slightly skewed; We will know for sure when the club officially announces the transaction, which is expected to take place on February 14th. The Rangers can officially add him to the roster on valentine’s day, when reliever Jake Diekman and Prince Fielder can be added to the 60-day disabled list.
To understand the love-hate relationship that the Rangers and Napoli have, you have to look at their history. This is Napoli’s third stint with the club, and much like an attractive ex-girlfriend, the Rangers have trouble saying no to him. He was acquired in 2011 from the Blue Jays and helped the club reach the World Series for the second straight year. In 2011, he hit .320 with thirty round-trippers and 75 RBIs. He hit .320 in the postseason as well, with three home runs. In his 2012 campaign, he made the A.L. all-star team as a catcher, with another year of solid production. He was re-united with the club in 2015 for a short time, and posted carrer-worst numbers in OPS. He did little to help the club, with only 23 hits in 35 games. Oh, did we mention that he also played left field during that time? That was a strange time for everyone, fans included. However, in 2016 with the Indians he bounced back with 34 homers, 101 RBIs, and an A.L. championship. And now, he will be with the Rangers again in 2017.
So Nap gets a place to play in 2017, and a reported $8.5 million. What does Texas get? The Rangers get an added pop in the middle of their lineup, which had been a concern after losing Beltran, Moreland, and Desmond to free agency. Napoli is comfortable in Texas, and has the support of the fans. He also has experience playing with most of the squad, since he was tenured just 2 seasons ago. Everything looks to be a good fit on both ends of this deal, and the Rangers are hoping he can produce for them as he enters his age 35 season.
And for Rangers fans, it is, in fact, a party at Napoli’s. Let’s just hope that Jon Daniels brings a box of chocolates for the announcement.