Minnesota Twins free agent profile: Mike Napoli

CHICAGO, IL - JULY 02: Mike Napoli
CHICAGO, IL - JULY 02: Mike Napoli /

The 2017-2018 offseason is here for the Minnesota Twins. Who could the Twins be targeting in the free agent market to improve their lineup?

Now that the Minnesota Twins have entered the offseason, they are looking to improve the roster through trades and through free agent signings. In this series, we’re going to examine individual players that the Minnesota Twins could have interest in this offseason through free agency.

We will not have any specific order to which player we highlight in this series, but we will look at each player’s past history, why he would be a good fit for the Minnesota Twins, and, last, the sort of contract likely to be required to sign the player.

Next up in the series is a player both Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have a history with…

Mike Napoli, 1B/DH

As mentioned above, Twins front office leaders Falvey and Levine each have a history with Napoli in their previous organizations. The two also made a run at Napoli last offseason as well before he returned to the Texas Rangers.

Napoli’s 2017 was a slight disappointment as he hit .193/.285/.428. A positive with those low numbers is that he was still able to smash 29 home runs. Looking at Napoli’s career splits he fits a need the Twins have vs. left-handed pitchers as he has hit them with a slash line of .270/.379/.513.

Napoli has a history of being a bit of an inconsistent performer. When looking at his performances each season some look good and others are not so much. His 2015 might be as good of an example as any. He opened the season playing for the Boston Red Sox and hit .207/.307/.386. After being traded to the Rangers to finish the season Napoli played in 35 games and hit .295/.396/.513 and 5 home runs.

Another negative of Napoli’s 2017 might turn into a positive as teams look to him as a 2018 addition:

Playing with a torn ligament in his hand would sure have impacted Napoli’s ability to be an effective batter. As Bradford states, if Napoli is healthy he is an intriguing option for teams looking for a first baseman or designated hitter.

How he would fit

The Twins are still looking to fill out their roster with a right-handed hitting, power-bat. Napoli checks both of those boxes. Napoli would work very well as a platoon with Joe Mauer who has shown success when the Twins were able to regulate his playing time and give him scheduled days off. With Napoli’s success against lefties, it makes it easy to rest Mauer on those days the Twins run into a left-handed starter.

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The Twins front office also seems to value veteran players that can help lead the younger players in what it takes to be a team that consistently wins. We saw that value in action again as the Twins recently signed Fernando Rodney to anchor the bullpen. Last year that value was exemplified in the signing of veterans Matt Belisle and Chris Gimenez. That could happen once again with a Napoli signing.

Contract Demands

Unless Napoli is able to operate based on some past performance factor, he should be able to be had on a fairly cheap contract. Last year Napoli made $2.5 million and it would seem a 1-year contract in a similar dollar amount could be expected. Of course, there is always the risk of the dreaded bidding war that could drive his price up a little, but a $5 million deal would still be good value for the 2016 version of Napoli.

Next: Twins free agent profile: Andrew Cashner

Should the Twins do it?

If the Twins can get Napoli to sign in Minnesota for a 1-year deal at anywhere between $2-6 million they should do it. He may not be a perfect fit for a roster that could also really use a right-handed bat that can take some days in the outfield, but when you realize he would be replacing someone like Kennys Vargas, that is a huge upgrade for a team with the playoffs in their sights. Even if things go south, in today’s age of baseball a $6 million contract is a gamble teams are willing to make.