Mike Napoli of the Texas Rangers celebrates his two-run home run with teammate David Murphy in the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park April 18, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Texas Rangers fans seem to love Mike Napoli, who has become something of a folk hero ever since his historic run in 2011 over the second half of the season and into the playoffs when he surely would've been World Series MVP had Nelson Cruz just caught that ball or the Rangers would've just gotten that last strike — either time.
But last season was more along the lines of what Napoli is as a major leaguer when he came slamming back down to Earth to hit .227 with just 24 home runs after hitting 30 bombs with a .320 average in 2011. Now, Napoli is the top free agent catcher in a market that is severely lacking in free agent catcher options, meaning he'll likely get a bigger payday than he really deserves.
The Rangers have expressed their interest to bring Napoli back, but to do so on their terms. What are their terms? Well probably not in line with his after they declined to pay Napoli a $13.3 million qualifying offer for the 2013 season. Napoli is said to want four years, while the Rangers will certainly not go beyond three.
Napoli met with the Boston Red Sox over the weekend. The Red Sox, along with the Rangers and the Seattle Mariners seem to be the main players for Napoli's services, and there's thought the Mariners would be the most likely team willing to go four years on a deal. Now, he is set to meet with the Rangers this week, who offered him a three-year deal last offseason that he turned down before having his awful season this past year.
The one thing the Rangers have going in their favor is that they would view Napoli as their No. 1 catcher, most likely. The Red Sox have a catcher (Jarrod Saltalamacchia) and would want him as a first baseman. The Mariners would want him as a designated hitter/first baseman hybrid. Napoli has made it known he sees himself as a catcher. Make no mistake, it'd be nice to have Napoli back in a Rangers uniform but only on the Rangers' terms.