Cleveland Indians first baseman/designated hitter Mike Napoli is currently playing under a one year deal, but that is not expected to last much longer.
The Cleveland Indians signed Mike Napoli this past offseason with the expectation that he provides solid power and production in the middle of their lineup. Simultaneously, Napoli signed up in hopes of gaining a multi-year contract this offseason.
It is safe to say that both parties achieved what they wanted with this signing for 2016. The Indians/Napoli partnership is a win-win scenario. That said, Napoli has consistently provided the production necessary to prove to teams he is worthy of a raise and multi-year contract.
Without Napoli, the Indians likely are not atop their division. Instead, Cleveland would probably been seen more as a favorite to lock up one of the American League’s wild card spots. Napoli has been a difference maker and it is time to pay him.
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The question surrounding Napoli’s future is does he even want to remain an Indian? The answer is an emphatic yes!
When discussing the possibility of an extension to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Napoli gave his thoughts on his experience in Cleveland, rather than strictly the contract itself.
"I’m always up for anything. Yeah, I love it here. From the guys in the clubhouse, the front office, the training staff, the cooks. Everything has been wonderful. I’m not opposed to it."
If Napoli is not leading a specific offensive category for the Indians, he is not far from the top. His successful season should have landed him in the MLB All-Star game. Even though Napoli did not get voted in, Tribe fans view him as one of the best at his position.
Napoli is 34 years old and teams generally players at that age typically will get free agent offers of no longer than four seasons. That should not change for Napoli this offseason. The Indians were willing to extend their payroll to improve their team’s competitiveness level prior to the trade deadline.
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They did not get everyone who was linked to the organization, so that allows more money to possibly be invested back into the club. It would be wise for the Indians to extend Napoli’s contract? The only concern by fans is how much are the Indians really willing to contribute to a player who will be in his mid 30s next season?
Signing Napoli to a three-year contract with a player or team option for a fourth season should be the length of his next contract. Such a deal is not simply a one-year contract again and it is still short enough that Cleveland could get out of quickly should Napoli’s level of play drops.
For Napoli, he gets the multi-year contract and as long as he continues to play well, his contract could be extended. Once again, a win-win scenario for both parties is very realistic.
The Indians, their fans, and the city of Cleveland has embraced Napoli. Napoli sees how loyal and dedicated the fans are in NE Ohio and the Indians are built now and into the future given all the players already with contract extensions.
Not paying Napoli removes a significant piece to their offense and the amount of power in the lineup drops significantly. For the Indians, signing Napoli is a must.
Napoli is going to have multiple teams interested in him, but at the end of the day, Cleveland is the best option. Soon enough, Napoli and the Tribe are going to agree to a deal. How could they not?