Hot Stove Rumors: Mike Napoli Willing to Play Other Positions

Mike Napoli had an off year.  We know that.  The question is, did he have an off year because he was injured, did he have an off year because it was a fluke, or was 2012 an indication of the player Napoli really is?  It's a hard question to answer after Napoli's 2011 season and subsequent 2012 disappointment.  However, he has proven over his years in the Majors, he can play the game, and will be worth a decent free agent contract - especially now that he says he is willing to play another position.

According to Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas, Napoli is willing to play any position as long as it gets him on the field more often.  If he is truly open to playing other positions, it may open the field for him.

"I just want to play," Napoli said. "I feel the most comfortable behind the plate because that's where most of my reps have been. Do I think I can be good at first base if I had reps and practiced it all the time? Yes. But it's not like I'm saying I have to be a catcher. I just want to be in the lineup and play. If it helps at catcher, I'll catch, or at first base, I'll play there. But I like catching. I look at myself as catcher."
My take on Napoli is that he is probably worth somewhere near what would have been a qualifying offer from the Texas Rangers.  The Rangers weren't willing to pay that much and they took the gamble that another team isn't either.  Had they offered Napoli a qualifying offer and let him walk, they would have received draft pick compensation.  Napoli, though, could be worth anywhere between $7 million and $15 million per season.

This past season, Napoli played in just 108 games in 2012.  He hit .227/.343/.469 with 24 home runs.  It was quite the drop-off from 2011 when he hit .320/.414/.631.  Napoli has shown he can be a star, but he's also shown he can come crashing back to earth.  If he can stay on the field and play more games, he may be worth a large contract.

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