Just last offseason, the Rangers thought Napoli’s career was finished. Why else would they let a guy who just hit 34 home runs leave for a $7 million guaranteed salary in Cleveland.
104 RBIs later, and the Rangers may come crawling back to the 35-year-old first baseman.
Texas likes Napoli, but probably has questions about his awful October, just like everyone else. The Rangers must also figure out their conundrum at first base. The organization has Joey Gallo. He’s a top prospect, but looked lost at the big-league level.
Gallo will be 23 for the entire 2017 campaign. Through the last two seasons, he’s played just 53 games while accumulating 133 at bats in the majors. He’s slashing .173/.281/.368. Most concerning of all, Gallo’s struck out 76 times in those 133 at-bats.
It doesn’t appear like the Rangers want to rush Gallo, especially at first base.
Looking elsewhere on the roster, the Rangers also have 26-year-old left fielder Ryan Rua. He slashed .258/.331/.400 (.731 OPS) in 99 games with Texas in 2016. Jurickson Profar is also a candidate to get some playing time at first.
Rangers writer Kevin Sherrington favors platooning Rua and Gallo at first next season.
But if the Rangers are looking for a player who can produce, while helping in player development, they should look no further beyond Napoli.
Nap had a huge impact on Jose Ramirez this past season. Ramirez was given the starting shortstop job at the beginning of the 2015 campaign. He lost it shortly after, and many thought he’d spend his big-league career as a utility man.
But now, he’s arguably the Indians MVP and one of the best clutch hitters in MLB.
You can debate how much of an impact Napoli had on Ramirez, but he certainly took him under his wing.
To bottom line where Texas stands at first base, the club obviously has ideas of what to do, but nothing appears concrete right now. Signing Napoli would change all of that.