The Boston Red Sox made their second biggest free agent acquisition (Jonny Gomes earlier) of the off-season earlier today when the team announced the signing of free-agent Mike Napoli.
Hot Stove: Boston Signs Mike Napoli
Monday December 3rd, 2012
According to Rob Bradford of WEEI, the catcher/first baseman will make $39 million across a three-year deal.
The 31-year-old veteran hit .227/.343/.469 with 24 home runs and a .812 OPS. According to FanGraphs, he generated 2.0 fWAR in 2012.
After the departure of Adrian Gonzalez via trade in 2012, the Red Sox were left with soon-to-be free agent James Loney. The move allows the Red Sox to use Napoli primarily at the first base position with the ability to play catcher a few games.
Although Napoli's 2012 totals were down from his superb 2011 season, he was easily one of the best power hitting pieces on the free agent market this off-season. After being acquired by Texas prior to the 2011 season, Napoli hit .320/.414/.631 with 30 home runs and generated 5.6 fWAR in 113 games. For his seven year career, Napoli is hitting .259/.356/.507 with a .863 OPS and a total of 146 home runs.
The signing markes perfect sense for Boston. The team needed an everyday righty power bat and first baseman. With the first baseman market slim, Adam LaRoche is the only eye catching name, but he's rumored to be heading back to the Washington Nationals.
When Mike Napoli was with Texas, he usually batted sixth or lower. I personally forgot just how good a power hitter he was from 2010-to-2012. Below are a few statistics during the '10-'12 time period among first basemen with at least 800 PA. As displayed, Napoli is in pretty good company - especially for splitting time between first base and catcher.
As far as a lineup position, Napoli figures to bat fifth behind David Ortiz, but could see some time in the fourth spot depending on the match-up. For his career, Napoli has posted a .273/.381/.529 triple-slash line with a .911 OPS in 751 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers.
Overall, the signing was a good one for the Red Sox. They get a power hitting first baseman from a pool of free agents that was thin to begin with. At $13 million per season, you'll likely get a big right-handed power hitter in your lineup with the option to use him at catcher a few days a week.
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