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Rangers avoid arbitration with Mike Napoli at $9.4 million

Feb 11, 2012, 8:35 PM EDT

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From Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors comes word that the Rangers avoided arbitration with catcher Mike Napoli on Saturday night by agreeing to a one-year, $9.4 million contract for 2012.

Napoli requested a salary of $11.5 million and was offered $8.3 million from the Texas front office when arbitration figures were filed last month. It took the two sides about three weeks to find a middle ground.

Napoli hit .320 with a 1.046 OPS, 30 homers and 75 RBI in 113 games last year for the Rangers. The 30-year-old is currently scheduled to become a free agent in the fall, along with D’Backs catcher Miguel Montero and Cardinals backstop Yadier Molina.

In-their-prime catchers never seem to hit the open market. The money could get wild.

  1. hushbrother - Feb 11, 2012 at 10:06 PM

    I’d say that’s a bargain.

  2. nworca - Feb 12, 2012 at 3:06 AM

    I’d say they overpaid. Every succesful playoff team has players that have a career year. Brosius was the Yankee’s, Napoli the Rangers’s.

    • JBerardi - Feb 12, 2012 at 4:19 PM

      Doesn’t matter. They’re at the mercy of the arbitration system, which cares more about what a player has done than what they’re going to do.

  3. spytdi - Feb 12, 2012 at 4:09 AM

    Hopefully, on a one year contract, he’ll reproduce that nice season he had.

  4. uyf1950 - Feb 12, 2012 at 6:08 AM

    Going to be interesting to see if he can come close to repeating his 2011 performance in 2012 OR revert be to something like he was is 2009 or worse yet the 2010 season with the Angels.

    • JBerardi - Feb 12, 2012 at 4:30 PM

      He’ll probably come down to earth a bit because I don’t think he’s really a .320 hitter, probably more like .280. But his breakout year was very real: he increased his walk rate and cut his strikeout rate (pretty dramatically in both cases), and accumulated extra base hits at a much higher rate. In other words, in basically every area you could ask a batter to improve, he improved.

  5. rebeljpl - Feb 12, 2012 at 11:35 AM

    It has long been said that Mike Scioscia is a hard manager to play for if you’re a catcher. He allows no freedom in the way his catchers play and he wants them to catch the way he thinks is right. Napoli coming to Texas provided two things that helped him improve this year, 1. A very hitter friendly park that he has always swung the bat very well at and 2. A manager who trusted his ability in Wash, who didn’t sweat him and chew his ass every time he walked back into the dugout between innings. I believe based on this comfort and environment Napoli will have another good year. Maybe not as good as last year but very solid all the same.

    • cur68 - Feb 12, 2012 at 2:12 PM

      Reb, I agree. The best sign about Napoli’s O-game was that his home away splits were .302/.332: he hit better on the road than at that hitters paradise known as Arlington. Also he was pretty much exactly the same lefties vs righties (.319/.320), and .372 with RISP. He still hit very well in high leverage situations (.286) when he’d have been facing tougher pitchers, later in games. Summed up, this all indicates a very good, very consistent hitter. His renaissance seems almost Bautista like: get the right coaching, the right amount of playing time, and some trust from the manager and its Beast Mode. He’ll regress a bit BA & maybe RBI-wise as pitchers realize what their dealing with and try to junk ball him, but he’ll walk more and increase in OBP this season. The 2012 contract is a bargain & look for a BIG payout for 2013.

      • JBerardi - Feb 12, 2012 at 4:39 PM

        He might walk a bit more but his OBP is going to go down, just because there was a lot of air in his batting average last year.

        Oh, and batting average splits are not what you ever want to use to evaluate a hitter. Batting average is a fluky stat and even with a full season’s worth of PAs, it’s not that reliable. When you start slicing and dicing the sample sizes down, the random variation just swamps everything. In other words, give him enough PAs, and I promise you Napoli will have a better batting average at Arlington than on the road. Everyone is. But when you look at just a half-season worth of PAs, the randomness of a few bloop singles or caught line drives can obscure that.

      • cur68 - Feb 12, 2012 at 6:03 PM

        Sure JB, I’ll buy that. Mostly what I was going for though, was that Napoli was good and consistently so and it wasn’t just due to Arlington. He flat out played well regardless of the park or situation, straight across the board. Based on that, he’s consistent enough to bet on being nearly as good next season as he was last. Given the care with which pitchers will now treat him, his OPS will now be more dependent on patience. If he lays off the junk (and I’m saying he will) the “air factor” in his BA is mitigated by the walks. Either way, this stuff’s all my opinion: who knows, really? I think he’s a safe bet, I think you think so, too. He’s probably going to be worth that contract for a year and then be worth a LOT more the next.

      • rebeljpl - Feb 12, 2012 at 8:43 PM

        I agree. His clutch ABs late in the year and in the postseason is something too that cannot truly be measured. As a long suffering Rangers fan, its been a LONG time since I can remember having someone in the lineup who when they came up to bat, you knew they were going to make it happen. As I said, I do think his numbers will drop some this year but not to the point to be considered a regression. He will have another solid year and I will be more than willing to bet that Nolan and JD lock him up and he does not ever put a toe in the free agency pool. Wouldn’t even be surprised if they did it prior to the end of the season. The extension just assures them more time.

  6. stex52 - Feb 12, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    If he even approaches last year it’s a bargain. If he slips back toward 2009/10 numbers it’s not too bad of an overpay, as long as he keeps his defense positive. But it does look from the numbers like the change of scenery may have bumped him up a level.

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