The rumor’s out there – that the Baltimore Orioles are interested in free agent first baseman and catcher, Mike Napoli. He of course played with the Cleveland Indians in 2016, helping to lead them to the World Series. And he wasn’t just a role player – Napoli was a big part of the team.
Napoli played in 150 games, hitting .239 and getting on base at a .335 clip. He also smacked a career-high 34 home runs. So before we go any further, is there more than meets the eye to those numbers?
Obviously what I’m questioning is whether or not Napoli was juicing. And I’d be willing to put my hand to the fire and say that he wasn’t. Granted I can’t say that for sure, however there are always rumors about guys when that type of thing is going on. Due to varying injuries in the past, those questions have been raised about Napoli. But nothing was ever definitively proven or even insinuated. Where there’s no smoke, there’s often no fire.
So what would Napoli do the Orioles’ lineup? I suspect that the days of him being a regular catcher are over, and the Orioles already have the likes of Joseph as their backup catcher. So…would Napoli be the Orioles’ first baseman? Perhaps a DH?
I suspect that signing Napoli to be a DH would waste a roster spot. That’s why a guy like Trumbo was so valuable, because he was an outfielder. The Birds need to beef up their outfield, specifically in right. So if they’re going to platoon a guy at DH, he should be an outfielder. So where does the Orioles’ interest in Napoli stem?
I suspect that if they were to bring him aboard, the idea would probably be that Davis would move to right field semi-regularly. We know he can play the position, dating back to the waning days of the 2012 season – and onward. On days when Napoli would DH, we’d probably see Davis at first base again.
That’s not a horrible idea, incidentally. However Davis is a good first baseman. The Orioles in my view would be foolish to lose his glove over there. Granted in the scenario I just gave you he would still play there part-time, but you get my point. When you have something good going you don’t change it up.
So could Napoli play in the outfield? In 2015 he did play 11 games as a left fielder for Texas…and held a .600 fielding percentage. So scrap that idea. Napoli’s bat, leadership skills, and savoir faire would definitely help the Orioles. However I’m not sure there’s space for his skill set on the roster. Time will tell.