It feels as though the Yankees have been linked to every possible free agent. There have been multiple reports that the Yankees have spoken to Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Yoenis Cespedes, among others, to fill their DH vacancy. Heading into the offseason, with Brian McCann on their roster, it was unclear whether the Yankees would make a serious run at a DH or settle with McCann to hold down that role for now. The Yankees answered that question last week by trading Brian McCann to the Houston Astros for a pair of pitching prospects, including hard-thrower Albert Abreu. The deal has shifted the question from if the Yankees will sign a power hitter to when will the Yankees sign a power hitter.
Having said that, the Yankees should not blindly throw a massive contract at the likes of Bautista or Cespedes to fill the void at DH. In fact, the Yankees should be hesitant to make a serious run at these type of players. It has never been more clear that the Yankees are in full rebuild mode and signing an aging star to an expensive, potentially long-term deal seems foolish. Instead, the Yankees should take a long and hard look at Mike Napoli. His name might not excite as many Yankee fans, but he is exactly the type of player the Yankees should be targeting this offseason.
Napoli, who recently turned 35, can provide the Yankees with a much needed right-handed power bat at a relatively cheap cost and, more importantly, on a short-term deal. A member of the Cleveland Indians last season, Napoli managed to hit a career high 34 homers at the age of 34. By that logic, he should hit 35 in 2017! Nonetheless, perhaps more notably, Napoli provided a spark to the Indians clubhouse that helped propel them to the World Series. Every stop of his career, whether in Cleveland, Boston or Texas, Napoli has brought a swagger to his team that has helped catapult them to a World Series appearance. The Yankees could use someone like Napoli to help guide their relatively young roster next season.
On top of this, Napoli loves hitting at Yankee Stadium. I mean, he loves it. In 34 games in the Bronx, Napoli has a .297/.410/.555 slash line to go along with nine dingers and 26 RBIs. Those are sparkling numbers and, with Gary Sanchez as the Yankees only real power threat from the right side of the plate, Napoli can help take some pressure off of the young superstar.
Yes, the Yankees can flex their muscles by signing Jose Bautista or Yoenis Cespedes, but does it really make sense? A few years ago, maybe. Now, not so much. Mike Napoli is the perfect in-between. He will not be too expensive and he certainly will not force the Yankees to enter into a long-term investment. Perhaps by New Year’s Eve, there will be a Party at Napoli’s in New York.
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