Mike Napoli has been a crucial piece for the Red Sox for winning the 2013 World Series championship. The only thing that hasn’t changed with Mike Napoli is his face as it is still very fuzzy, but his season as well as the rest of the Red Sox as a whole has been a complete disappointment as they head into the All-Star break being 9.5 games back in the AL East and tied for last place with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Red Sox are also sitting 8 games behind the Los Angeles Angels in the AL Wild Card race. According to the Boston Globe, the Red Sox have been fielding phone calls from other teams and keeping an open mind on trade discussions for Napoli.
Despite the Red Sox trading Napoli would be a last resort, it wouldn’t hurt just to listen to other teams’ offers to see how valuable he really is. The Red Sox resigned Mike Napoli last December because he had exceeded expectations during the 2013 World Series run. Napoli used to be one of the leagues top catchers, but had to shift over to first base because of constant hip issues. In the same conversation with the Boston Globe, an American League executive told them that Napoli’s trade value is currently very high because they feel that Napoli could still play catcher and will have many assets to offer the Red Sox in return. Napoli last played catcher in 2012 with the Texas Rangers.
Napoli has transitioned very well to first base since first signing with the Red Sox in 2013. He currently ranks 10th in defensive rating among 27 qualifying first basemen. Napoli is only hitting .265 so far this season and has 24 extra base-hits (10 home runs, 14 doubles). Definitely not as good as last season as he logged 63 extra base-hits (38 doubles, 2 triples and 23 home runs), but he became one of the biggest free agency steals for the Red Sox. This is mainly because Fenway Park has been a friendly ballpark to Napoli.
Part of Mike Napoli’s disappointing numbers so far this season has come from a dislocated finger he suffered back in April. The injury was having an obviously negative effect on his game and the Red Sox were trying to avoid putting him on the disabled list early, but he ended up on the disabled list in late May. Napoli came off the disabled list last month and had a great June with a .311 batting average and 5 home runs. July has been complete opposite so far as he has no home runs and a .194 batting average.
If this recent trajectory continues, the Red Sox will become the 2nd straight defending World Series champion to miss the playoffs the following season. With only a few weeks left until the July 31st trade deadline, the Red Sox will immediately have to light a fire under themselves after the All-Star break. If the Red Sox continue to be inconsistent, they may end up becoming sellers at the trade deadline after all and that includes Mike Napoli.
I personally feel that Napoli still has a lot left in the tank and I wouldn’t quickly pull the trigger on trading him. I would listen to other teams and keep an open mind, but I would be hesitant to part ways with a valuable first basemen.