Minnesota Twins: Keep an eye on Mike Napoli in free agency

ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 12: Mike Napoli
ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 12: Mike Napoli /

The Minnesota Twins need another power bat in the lineup and first baseman/designated hitter Mike Napoli looks like the perfect fit.

If the 2017 MLB Playoffs has shown Minnesota Twins fans anything, it’s that professional baseball is a power driven league. In fact, the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers have  already setting a World Series record with 22 home run through five games. This following a season where the major league record of 5,963 home runs in 2000 was broken as teams combined to hit 6,105 dingers, according to the Associated Press.

Basically, the long ball has become an even more important commodity. What does this mean for the Minnesota Twins? Well, they could use another power bat after finishing 16th with 206 home runs. Hence, the name Mike Napoli comes to mind as the perfect fit for the Twins.

Sure, Napoli struggled mightily at the plate batting a career-low .193 with a .285 on base percentage as a member of the Texas Rangers in 2017. Yet, he also pounded 29 home runs in 124 games played. Additionally, he hit a career-high 34 home runs in 2016 with the Cleveland Indians. So, he’s definitely the definition of a “power bat,” even if making contact is a struggle at this point in his career.

While the likes of J.D. Martinez and Justin Upton are far more intriguing, that’s simply not the sort of move the Twins tend to make. As a small market team, they rarely break the bank in free agency, especially when it comes to batters. If anything, they are most likely to spend big on a pitcher, considering that’s the major need on the team.

By signing Napoli, there’s no need to worry about breaking the bank though. Last year, he made $6 million and given his struggles making contact at the plate, he’ll likely come even cheaper than that figure. The fact he’s 35 years old doesn’t work in his favor either.

That being said, Napoli brings tremendous power as well as clubhouse value to Minnesota. Here’s what former teammate and Twins catcher Chris Gimenez had to say about Napoli to the Pioneer Press prior to last season:

"“He’s the best teammate I’ve ever had,” Gimenez said. “I love the guy to death. I would love to have had him here. I think he would have been really good in this clubhouse.”"

Of course, Twins baseball chief officer Derek Falvey also is well acquainted with the first baseman/designated hitter from his days with the Cleveland Indians. In his final season with the team, Napoli was one of the leaders in the clubhouse that helped get the Indians to the World Series.

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As a result, Falvey pursued him heavily last year as the head man with the Twins. After one season, It’s hard to see that interest suddenly die, especially if he is a strong clubhouse player. Just look at the impact veterans Bartolo Colón, Matt Belisle and Gimenez made on the team on and off the field last season. There’s unquestionable value in adding veterans to a young team.

With the Twins, he instantly becomes another veteran leader in the dugout, filling a need at designated hitter in the process. He’s also able to play first base for Joe Mauer on his rest days.

Of course, the investment in Napoli has a chance of being a total bust, but it also could turn into a win for the Twins. If he gets back to his 2016 self, it turns into a major win. At the worst, he doesn’t produce and is released without much of a financial burden at all. Essentially, a Napoli signing is the ultimate low risk, high reward scenario.

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Ideally, the Twins go after one of the top names on the market, but we all know Minnesota way better than that. Therefore, Napoli represents the most realistic free agent option capable of filling the need of a power hitter in the lineup.