The 2017 season isn’t over just yet, but it’s hard to deny slugger Mike Napoli has been struggling. Should the team bring him back in 2018 or is the party over after this season?
To say the Texas Rangers offense is reliant on the home run ball is an understatement. The organization lives and dies from the long ball and it’s hurting the team in the long run.
The Rangers have three players with 20 home runs or more on the team currently. All three are also leading the team in strikeouts. Two players are young and could develop more discipline, but Mike Napoli isn’t changing anytime soon.
Most seasons Napoli has been able to balance out his huge strikeout rate. That is not the case this season as he only has 32 walks with 125 strikeouts in 94 games. The 22 home runs has been helpful, but not nearly the production the Rangers expected.
Coming into 2017 Napoli was on top of the world after having a career year with the Indians. He hit 34 home runs and 101 RBI and finished with a 1.0 WAR. He signed a one-year deal with the Rangers, but does have a team option for 2018.
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The Rangers should be careful before they accept Napoli’s $11 million team option for 2018. The 35-year-old veteran has not exactly helped the Rangers. This season Napoli has a -0.4 WAR through 94 games with Texas.
Before the 2017 season began adding Napoli seemed like a smart move. He’s a veteran player with power and had three trips to the postseason with Texas. The direction of the organization has now changed and Napoli doesn’t fit in anymore.
The Rangers have 22-year-old Ronald Guzman who deserves a shot in the MLB. Through 101 games Guzman is hitting .313 with 12 home runs and 56 RBI in Triple-A. It’s hard to imagine the Rangers keeping Guzman down there for much longer.
It would be surprising to see Guzman not be called up in September. He should be eased into the first base role in 2018 with Joey Gallo. After 2018 Gallo will likely take over third base, it’s not a terrible idea to continue giving him reps at first base.
At the end of the day the Rangers organization is heading in a younger direction. They want more all-around players and not just home run or nothing sluggers. The Rangers should decline Napoli’s team option for 2018 and let Guzman play first base.