Texas Rangers should go ahead and lock up Mike Napoli

The Texas Rangers need to ink a deal with Mike Napoli as soon as possible. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The Texas Rangers need to ink a deal with Mike Napoli as soon as possible. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

The Texas Rangers and Mike Napoli are like Major League Baseball’s version of a budding celebrity couple. Everyone’s seeing them ending up together, but nobody has actually witnessed it, yet.

Some may not remember it, but back in 2010 the Texas Rangers marketing department developed the slogan “It’s Time.” Honestly, it worked. With a fanbase that had grown weary from disappointments and letdowns, it was time to see some action. That’s exactly what fans are saying now with the slowly developing talks between the Rangers front office and free agent first baseman Mike Napoli.

A match made in baseball heaven?

Napoli and the Rangers have quite the history. He came to Arlington prior to the 2011 via trade from Toronto and put together his best offensive season of his career. Splitting his starts at roughly a 50-30-20 ratio between catcher, first base and designated hitter, he achieved what at that time were career highs in home runs (30), runs batted in (74), batting average (.320), on base percentage (.414), slugging percentage (.631), and OPS (1.046).

Rangers fans adored the guy: especially after his heroics in the 2011 playoffs. Globe Life Park frequently burst out into boisterous chants of “Nah-po-li! Nah-po-li! Nah-po-li!!” Everyone in Texas knew his name and they loved watching him play.

Of course, your gut reaction to this might be one that says, “Well, the Texas Rangers play in a hitter-friendly park. Of course he’s going to see a resurgence there.” However, simple ballpark metrics don’t tell the full story. In fact, they don’t tell the story at all.

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Napoli played 57 home games and 56 road games with the Rangers in 2011 and his at bats were divided at 210-222, so the numbers compute. Surprisingly, he had more hits and homers, a higher average, an identical OBP and a higher OPS on the road. Plus, Texas plays in pitcher-friendly parks in Seattle, Oakland and Anaheim.  Perhaps his success with the Rangers had more to do with chemistry than physics.

A tough breakup

Following the 2012 season, which was a letdown for everyone involved, Napoli and the Rangers parted ways. He’d set the bar very high the year before and grossly under-performed that mark. He signed with the Red Sox as a free agent and went on to win himself a World Series title that first year.

He never did much against the Rangers, though. Every time he came to re-visit Arlington, it tore the fans. They loved the guy and what he did for Texas, but now he wore the visitor colors. But his numbers slowly dipped and in August of 2015, Boston sent him back to the Rangers for cash and fans rejoiced.

A grand reunion

While Napoli started just 34 games for Texas in 2015, he saw a surge in his batting average, OBP, Slugging and OPS. For the second time in his career, a move to the Rangers revitalized his career. But he, along with the rest of the team, fell silent in the postseason and everyone remembers what happened with Toronto.

A new beginning

So now, after what was unequivocally his best season of his career, he’s in talks to re-sign with the Rangers. While he’s never actually signed with Texas a free agent in the past, it’s clear that he’s a great fit.

Less than three weeks remain now until pitchers and catchers report to Surprise, Arizona for spring training. There’s no time to waste. We all know it’s going to happen, so why not do it now?

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Word is that he wants multiple years and the Rangers want just a one year deal while he wants two. At this point, let’s just seal the deal. He’s proven he can do it and it would be nice to see the guy retire with the Texas Rangers. Make that second year a team/player option if needed, but seal the deal and let’s start getting ready for 2017. Fans will be happy, Napoli will be happy and the team will be happy. What would be better than that?