BOSTON, MA - APRIL 17: Mike Napoli #25 of the Texas Rangers hits a two run homer in the second inning as Jarrod Saltalamacchia #39 of the Boston Red Sox catches on April 17, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Texas Rangers fans might soon have to come up with a new annoying cheer to chant every time a .240 hitter comes to the plate, as it's starting to look more and more like free agent catcher Mike Napoli, who wasn't tendered a qualifying offer last week, could end up elsewhere in 2013.
Napoli is a good player, who had a legendary half-season in 2011 and became a cult figure. He's still a guy the Rangers would like to have around for the future, but only at the right price. So it's not good news for Napoli fans that two clubs jumping in on Napoli talks are the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, both of which could likely drive up his price and put the Rangers out of the market and leave them with some grim prospects at catcher.
The Red Sox seem to be the favorites right now, according to ESPN's Buster Olney, who said the club would be interested in Napoli to do a little bit of everything — catch and play some first base. The Yankees, who have Mark Teixeira engrained at first, would like use Napoli as a catcher and designated hitter.
Another reason the Red Sox might be the favorite? Napoli has shown his talents to fit really well at Fenway Park, as ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett pointed out. Napoli has a career average of .306 with a .710 slugging percentage and a home run in every 10.4 plate appearances at Fenway Park.
The more thought that's put into this, the more it seems the Rangers would be well-served to bring Napoli back, and he's shown interest in returning. But the price just might be too high with some big hitters getting in on the fun.