Cleveland Indians slugger Mike Napoli is one of the most recognizable MLB free agents. Here’s five possible landing spots for the right-handed stick in 2017.
Among MLB free agents, Mike Napoli promises to be one of the hot stove season’s biggest storylines.
At the age of 34, Napoli recorded his best big-league season in 2016. The slugger clubbed 34 jacks and drove in 104 runs.
Despite this monster level of production, there may be some trepidation about how much front offices want to pay the man.
The Indians did not extend the $17.2 million qualifying offer to Napoli earlier this month, making him a free agent.
Cleveland’s in a precarious position. The team wants Napoli back, for good reason. The club hasn’t had a real clean-up hitter in their lineup since the days of Travis Hafner during the mid-2000s.
But Cleveland is also restrained by its budget. The Indians payroll totaled $114 million in 2016–21st in baseball.
Ownership has always said the payroll will increase if the Indians are ready to contend. Even with that in mind, The Tribe isn’t going to have one of the MLB’s top 10-15 payrolls by the time Spring Training rolls around.
The Tribe’s payroll will increase internally, as players such as Corey Kluber get a raise. Kluber made $4.5 million in 2016. He’ll earn $7.5 in 2017. Carlos Carrasco’s price tag will jump from $4.5 million to $6.5 million. These players are still bargains, but the payroll just jumped $5 million before you could even blink.
Long story short. The Indians might not be able to afford Napoli. Here’s where he could end up during the 2017 season.