What Does The Napoli Signing Mean for Josh Hamilton?
By Andrew Webb
The Texas Rangers have reportedly agreed on a deal with first baseman Mike Napoli. Does this signing put Josh Hamilton’s future with Texas in jeopardy?
First base has been a major priority for the Texas Rangers this off-season. Adding James Loney, and Josh Hamilton on minor-league deals. Now the Rangers have agreed on a deal with slugging first baseman Mike Napoli, pending physical.
Loney and Hamilton were already long shots to make the 25-man roster, but now the Napoli signing could mean neither makes the Opening Day roster. Hamilton has never played first base in his career, but the Rangers wanted him to attempt it in Spring Training.
Injuries have crushed Hamilton’s career, forcing him to miss all of the 2016 season. Hamilton is a five-time All-Star, but the 35-year-old could have issues sliding over to first base. Hamilton is an average outfielder, but injuries and age have made it difficult to trust him out there anymore.
During his nine-year career Hamilton is hitting .290/.349/.516 with 200 home runs and 701 RBI. Hamilton even won an MVP in 2010 with the Rangers. Once a feared hitter, but hasn’t played in over 100 games since 2013.
Napoli hit .239/.335/.465 with a career-high 34 home runs and 101 RBI in 150 games with the Cleveland Indians last season. Napoli has played seven seasons at first base, and is a logical choice for Opening Day first baseman.
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Napoli can’t play 162 games at first base, but the Rangers have Jurickson Profar and Ryan Rua to fill in. Hamilton could be an option at DH, but he’ll battle Joey Gallo for that role in Spring Training. The Rangers want to get Gallo move involved in 2017.
Unless Gallo clearly shows he’s not ready in Spring Training, expect him to be on the 25-man roster. The only way Hamilton makes the Rangers roster is an unbelievable performance in Spring Training. Hamilton could be an option at DH, but he’ll need to earn it this spring.