Todd Frazier facts: plays 4 of the 5 positions the Indians could upgrade at. Hits the ball out of the park. Will play in the AL Central.
For the Chicago White Sox.
About an hour after it was announced Frazier would be playing his home games at The Cell next season, the Tribe countered with a move of their own: veteran first baseman Mike Napoli on a 1-year, $7 million deal.
The timing was awful. Guys like Yasiel Puig and Carlos Gonzalez seem like pipe dreams most of the time, but the Indians making a move for the publicly available Frazier seemed incredibly realistic for whatever reason. I usually don’t get my hopes up with rumors like this but I can definitely say losing out on this one stings.
The Napoli signing itself is a fine one, dare I say smart. First of all, he’s a solid upgrade defensively over Carlos Santana at first base.
Psssst. You can win games by trying to score more runs than the other team. OR you can win games by trying to hold the other team to the fewest runs possible. We all want to win games, and Napoli helps a substantial amount with the latter strategy.
As far as his bat goes, yes he’s been trending downward since his shirtless days in Boston. His splits have grown further and further apart. He slashed an abysmal .191/.283/.320 against right handed pitching last season. He hasn’t hit 20 home runs since 2013. He’s been alive for 34 years.
Still, he’s a useful piece for the Indians. His BABIP was .268 last year, well below his career average. So a little unlucky, and a little unhealthy. He’s got this winter to change that. He was a 2.4 WAR player in 2014 with the Sox. That would have been tied for 4th on the team last year. Even if that drops to 2.0 (the second lowest WAR he’s posted in 10 years) in 2016, he would have been 6th.
There’s no argument to be made that this signing doesn’t help the team. It’s disappointing to miss out on Todd Frazier, and I’ll definitely be disappointed if this closes the book on their off season, but signing Mike Napoli is a good thing. It’s December 16th. 63 days until pitchers & catchers. The winter is young, people.
KEEP THE CHIEF