Skip to content

Red Sox lineup a whole lot deeper with Mike Napoli in the middle

Dec 3, 2012, 11:43 AM EDT

Mike Napoli Reuters

Mike Napoli to Boston has long seemed like destiny. That he’s been such a roaring success at Fenway is part of it: Napoli has hit .306/.397/.710 with seven homers in 62 lifetime at-bats in Boston.

The Red Sox initially tried to acquire Napoli in 2010, when the Angels weighed parting with him before the deadline. The Halos kept him then, only to send him to Toronto in the Vernon Wells deal after the season.

Napoli was moved quickly to Texas from there, and he hit 54 homers in his two seasons with the Rangers. Now a free agent for the first time, he’s struck a three-year, $39 million deal to play for the Red Sox. It was an easier price for Boston to pay since the Rangers didn’t make Napoli a $13.3 million qualifying offer, meaning there was no draft pick compensation attached to the signing.

Adding the 31-year-old Napoli presents the Red Sox with possibilities. They now have four catchers in Napoli, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, David Ross and Ryan Lavarnway. Napoli, though, wasn’t being viewed as a full-time option behind the plate by Boston or anyone else. He’s always struggled to stay healthy as a catcher, and some feel he might perform even better offensively if his time behind the plate is limited.

As things stand now, Napoli will see the vast majority of his time at first base. If Salty is traded, then perhaps Napoli will catch two or three times per week. If not, then Napoli may do most of his catching in NL parks when the Red Sox put David Ortiz at first base.

With Napoli in the fold, the Red Sox are currently looking at the following lineup:

CF Jacoby Ellsbury
2B Dustin Pedroia
DH David Ortiz
1B Mike Napoli
LF Jonny Gomes/Daniel Nava
3B Will Middlebrooks
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia/David Ross
RF Ryan Kalish
SS Jose Iglesias/Pedro Ciriaco

It’s a given that they’ll add a starting outfielder, which would likely leave Gomes, Nava and Kalish to battle for time in one spot. They could also sign Stephen Drew for shortstop, but if they don’t get him, they’ll probably give Iglesias a shot rather than turn to an Alex Gonzalez-type free agent.

Napoli may not be the ideal cleanup man, given that he’s likely to hit closer to last year’s .227 mark than his .320 average from 2011. Still, his power numbers should be very impressive if playing first base allows him to get 500 at-bats for the first time. His career average puts him at 32 homers per 500 at-bats.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Job of Tigers manager Brad Ausmus in jeopardy

    Sep 4, 2015, 6:05 PM EDT

    Seattle Mariners v Detroit Tigers Getty Images

    Brad Ausmus could soon be out of a job as the Tigers sink in the AL Central.

  2. Domonic Brown diagnosed with a concussion

    Sep 4, 2015, 5:03 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 4.43.54 PM

    Brown may be done for the year.

  3. Justin Morneau returns from concussion, rejoins Rockies

    Sep 4, 2015, 4:47 PM EDT

    Justin Morneau Getty Images

    Any further concussion-related problems could force the former MVP into retirement

  4. Cardinals activate outfielder Jon Jay from the disabled list

    Sep 4, 2015, 3:48 PM EDT

    jon jay getty Getty Images

    Jay missed the past two months with a wrist injury.

  5. Sandy Alderson is not going to “roll over” for Scott Boras and shut down Matt Harvey

    Sep 4, 2015, 2:13 PM EDT

    Sandy Alderson AP

    The Matt Harvey controversy is a lot like the Stephen Strasburg shutdown of 2012. But Sandy Alderson is not going to do what Mike Rizzo did, someone close to him says.

  6. Yankees (finally) place Mark Teixeira on the disabled list

    Sep 4, 2015, 11:33 AM EDT

    Mark Teixeira AP

    Teixeira suffered the injury on August 17.

  7. Scott Boras and the Mets disagree on what Matt Harvey’s innings limit is

    Sep 4, 2015, 11:03 AM EDT

    Matt Harvey Matt Harvey

    Just when you thought the Mets would enjoy a smooth, controversy-free final month of the regular season.

  8. And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

    Sep 4, 2015, 7:29 AM EDT

    Carlos Gonzalez AP

    Carlos Gonzalez hit two homers for the second straight night.

  9. Bryce Harper walks in all four of his plate appearances, scores four runs

    Sep 3, 2015, 11:04 PM EDT

    FILE - In this July 21, 2015, file photo, Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper pauses in the dugout during a baseball game against the New York Mets at Nationals Park in Washington. Mike Trout turned 24 on Friday, and he and Bryce Harper could become the youngest pair of MVPs in major league history if they win this year.  (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) AP

    Bryce Harper didn’t have an official at-bat tonight, but he still made a major impact in the Nationals’ 15-1 blowout victory over the Braves.

  10. Marcus Stroman is getting closer to rejoining the Blue Jays

    Sep 3, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT

    Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman throws during the first inning of a spring training exhibition baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton, Fla., Wednesday, March 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) AP

    Stroman threw 4 2/3 hitless innings in his first minor league rehab start.

  11. Jose Iglesias exits game after being hit in hand while trying to bunt

    Sep 3, 2015, 10:29 PM EDT

    jose iglesias

    Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias was forced to exit Thursday’s game against the Royals in the third inning when he was hit in the hand while trying to drop down a bunt.

  12. Corey Seager starting at shortstop and batting eighth in MLB debut Thursday

    Sep 3, 2015, 9:50 PM EDT

    GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28: Corey Seager #61 of the Los Angeles Dodgers poses for a portrait during spring training photo day at Camelback Ranch on February 28, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The Dodgers called up top prospect Corey Seager today and manager Don Mattingly isn’t wasting any time getting him into the starting lineup…

  13. Daniel Murphy day-to-day with mild quad strain

    Sep 3, 2015, 8:46 PM EDT

    NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 16:  Daniel Murphy #28 of the New York Mets reacts after he is out at first to tend the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 16, 2015 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.The Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the New York Mets 8-1.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Murphy had a stint on the disabled list earlier this season due to a left quad strain.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. J. Baez (2432)
  2. C. Correa (2389)
  3. B. Crawford (2351)
  4. H. Pence (2340)
  5. B. Harper (2142)