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Blue Jays trade just-acquired Mike Napoli to the Rangers for Frank Francisco

Jan 25, 2011, 3:34 PM EDT

Mike Napoli

Just days after acquiring catcher Mike Napoli from the Angels as part of the Vernon Wells trade/contract dump the Blue Jays have traded him to the Rangers for reliever Frank Francisco.

Napoli seemed like an odd fit in Toronto because the Blue Jays have catching prospect J.P. Arencibia ready to take over behind the plate this season, but the presence of free agent signing Yorvit Torrealba in Texas likely means Napoli won’t be a regular catcher for the Rangers either.

Instead, he’ll likely see some action behind the plate while also taking starts at first base or designated hitter from Mitch Moreland against left-handed pitching. Whatever slim chance there was of Vladimir Guerrero returning to the Rangers in a part-time role, the acquisition of Napoli seemingly rules his return out completely. During the past three seasons Guerrero has hit .297 with an .832 OPS versus lefties, but Napoli has been even better by hitting .310 with a .987 OPS off southpaws.

There’s nothing the Blue Jays could do to make the Wells trade (and any moves stemming from it) look like a mistake, but a good-hitting catcher generally has more value that a good but not great reliever and they just signed a pair of right-handed relievers in Octavio Dotel and Jon Rauch. Toronto lost closer Kevin Gregg and setup man Scott Downs to free agency, so perhaps they felt even more bullpen reinforcements were needed, and certainly Francisco is a very good late-inning option who may beat out Dotel for closing duties.

Early struggles saw Francisco lose his closer job to Neftali Feliz in April and a strained rib muscle got him left off the Rangers’ playoff roster, but in between he posted a 2.84 ERA, .220 opponents’ batting average, and 57/16 K/BB ratio in 51 innings from mid-April to the end of August. He also had a 3.43 ERA, .206 opponents’ batting average, and 140/41 K/BB ratio in 113 innings during the previous two seasons.

  1. sportsdrenched - Jan 25, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    Dayton…are you watching this. The Rangers have too many catchers.

  2. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 25, 2011 at 3:39 PM

    I’d say you can never have enough pitching in the AL East. Should be a fun season.

  3. BC - Jan 25, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    I’m sooooooo confused…. Mommy make it stop…..

  4. proudlycanadian - Jan 25, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    The Jays took Napoli and Rivera because they enabled them to get out from under the Wells contracy. They did not need either player. Napoli makes a lot of sense for Texas and probably means that the Rangers will not be signing Vlady. The Jay’s now have a very strong and deep bull pen. I doubt that Rivera will be with The Jays when the season begins.

    • proudlycanadian - Jan 25, 2011 at 4:02 PM

      P. S. After the Wells trade was made, I speculated that The Jays might try to trade Rivera to Texas. Obviously, Texas felt that Napoli was a better fit for them and was willing to give up a very good relief pitcher and cash to get him. The Jays might see how Rivera performs in spring training, however, I suspect that he will either be traded along with cash for a prospect or will be released.

  5. Adam - Jan 25, 2011 at 4:34 PM

    Craig, you missed the most important impact of this trade. Now that Francisco is gone, there is NO WAY that Ron Washington lets Feliz start.

  6. trevorb06 - Jan 25, 2011 at 5:23 PM

    This trade was the final nail in the coffin that holds Feliz’s potenial to have an amazing career as a starter. Now he’ll just remain a glorified reliever and never fully develop the necessary tools needed to be able to complete a game; instead he’ll just finish them when lesser pitchers cannot.

    Rest in peace potential, you will be missed.

    • spudchukar - Jan 25, 2011 at 7:35 PM

      “The reports of my death have been exaggerated”, A guy gets a cold and you are working on his Eulogy already. Easy does it Trevor it is only full year 2.

      • trevorb06 - Jan 27, 2011 at 1:14 PM

        Nope, Feliz will be like an amazing version of Matt Capps. People will see all those shiney saves he has and NEVER want to let him do anything else but 9th inning.

  7. andrewkw - Jan 25, 2011 at 5:54 PM

    Is this just a cost cutting move for the jays?

    I can’t see how they could possibly be better off. Plus getting Texas to throw in cash.

    • Mark - Jan 25, 2011 at 6:37 PM

      It’s a move looking towards the long term. Right now, I’d rather have Napoli over Fransisco. But Fransisco is an “A” type according to Elias, and if he’s the closer he should remain an “A” type. AA is hoping to get a first rounder – a little risky, IMO, considering that Fransisco accepted arb this year. Plus, if he signs with a team that is protected, the Jays just get a second.

      My gut feeling is that at the deadline AA moves Fransisco. He’ll likely be the best RP option, and we all know how desperate teams can get for a good closer.

  8. proudlycanadian - Jan 26, 2011 at 7:51 AM

    The Jays have a talented young rotation and now have a very deep and experienced bullpen. Overall, they probably have the deepest bullpen in the AL. The young starters will probably be delighted.

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