SURPRISE, Ariz.-- The Rangers filled their last big need of the offseason when they officially announced the signing of free agent Mike Napoli to a one-year contract with an option for 2018.Napoli will be the Rangers' primary first baseman and will also see some time at designated hitter. But his
SURPRISE, Ariz.-- The Rangers filled their last big need of the offseason when they officially announced the signing of free agent Mike Napoli to a one-year contract with an option for 2018.
Napoli will be the Rangers' primary first baseman and will also see some time at designated hitter. But his defense is secondary.
The Rangers signed Napoli because of the proven power he can provide in the middle of the order. That's what was missing from Texas' lineup after the offseason departures of Carlos Beltran, Ian Desmond and Mitch Moreland as free agents.
"We added another bully in the box," manager Jeff Banister said. "One we know very well. He adds a dimension necessary to solidify what is already a good offense. That's the tactical side of it.
"The human side of it is we are bringing back a guy on our team who is not just a uniform, but lives and breathes winning. He is a teammate and a team leader. His playoff record speaks for itself… an absolute joy."
Napoli was with the Indians last year, hitting .239 with 34 home runs, 101 RBIs and a .465 slugging percentage. The Indians won the American League Central and advanced to the World Series before losing to the Cubs.
It was the eighth time in the past 10 years Napoli has been on a team that advanced to postseason. That includes three times with the Rangers: in 2011-12, and again when he was reacquired on Aug. 7, 2015, from the Red Sox.
"No. 1, we added a premium middle-of-the-order run producer," general manager Jon Daniels said. "The intangible piece is he is a winner."
The Rangers engaged Napoli early in the offseason. But their first priority was to reinforce their starting rotation, and they did that by signing Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross. Once Texas' front office did that, the team turned its attention to the lineup.
The Rangers also made an effort to sign Edwin Encarnacion, but he ended up signing with the Indians. That left Napoli at the top of Texas' list.
Napoli was motivated to return to the Rangers, but the deal didn't get done until he was willing to do just a one-year deal. Napoli will get $6 million this season, with a club option of $11 million in 2018 and a $2.5 million buyout.
"This is where I wanted to be," Napoli said. "I have been a free agent before. I knew I was going to have a job somewhere. This is the place I wanted to be. It took some time, but it worked out."
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.