Mike Napoli isn't all offense, he's a heck of a defensive catcher. (Image: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Should the Yankees swoop in on the possible failing Red Sox-Napoli deal?

I mean, the Boston Red Sox don’t like us anyway, so why not heat up the rivalry even more?

Seriously though, this would be far beyond a move out of spite. The New York Yankees’ catching scenario didn’t get any better over the holidays and there have been reports of Austin Romine being on the 25-man roster and probable starter once the season starts. Not to mention, the Red Sox have also been in talks with free-agent Adam LaRoche, so Mike Napoli‘s window in Beantown looks smaller, especially with him garnering the attention of another team. If you’re the Yankees, why not pursue this option?

It’s not impossible to think that the Yankees would be in on Napoli. What Napoli brings to a team is solid contact with the bat alongside major power and a great glove behind the plate. The Yankees would be absolutely crazy to try not be in talks with Napoli because despite being 31, his numbers prove that he is far from slowing down.

Taking a look at his 2012, Napoli had a slash line of .227/.343/.469 alongside 29 homers, 75 RBIs and increased wOBA of .359 from 2011′s .349. While his batting average was down nearly .100 in 2012 from his .320 average in 2011, Napoli was still very effective with the bat. He did however strikeout 30 percent of the time in 2012 whereas in 2011 he only struck only 19.7 percent of the time. He also walked less in 2012 than in 2011. Regardless, Napoli did well enough to raise his value among free-agent catchers.

For Napoli, his best spot in the line-up seems to be around seventh or eighth as he mainly hit from those spots in 2012. His bat would fit nicely into the Bombers’ line-up considering this area was right around where Russell Martin‘s bat used to be. The one unfortunate thing about Napoli is he, like the majority of the Yankees, had some trouble hitting with runners on, but if he were to be in Yankee Stadium, one of the best hitters’ ballparks in the major leagues, he may thrive a little bit more. Not to mention in the little time he’s played in the new Yankee Stadium throughout his career, he’s been pretty successful, holding a .375/.531/.625 slash line with two home runs and six RBIs.

Napoli’s defense is also something that is a highly valued commodity in New York. Napoli had become more vocal with wanting to play first-base while in Texas, which is something that would more than likely not happen in New York. Despite that, Napoli still played 619.1 innings behind the plate in the past season and had a fielding percentage of .993. He threw out 26 percent of the runners who attempted to steal on him and only allowed eight passed balls and 16 wild pitches. Aside from the runners caught stealing, Napoli was either at the same level, or better than Martin behind the plate. The Yankees have stressed before that defense is the key in a catcher, so Napoli makes for a great fit.

So clearly if the Yankees make any sort of stab at signing Napoli, it puts Romine’s future as a Yankee up in the air. Here’s what I say they do: sign Napoli, trade Romine while the iron is hot and continue to work with Gary Sanchez until he’s MLB ready. Sanchez has also been noted as one of the top Yankee prospects, so it’d make more sense to keep him than it would Romine. The first base issue might be something that can be ironed out if Napoli comes to New York, but that will remain to be seen. Napoli’s cost may or may not be a deal-breaker, but the team would be better off signing him instead of having no options behind the plate for a long time. As we know now, the Red Sox’s interest in LaRoche clearly proves that things with Napoli aren’t going as well as anticipated. Let’s hope Brian Cashman is keeping his eyes and ears open on this.

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  • Richard Regan

    Yes, Napoli could help this lineup with his bat, but. no, he’s not a great glove behind the plate. He’s not even an adequate glove. His career dWAR is in the high negatives and there’s this from FANGRAPHS:

    Napoli has thrown out a below-average rate of would-be base-stealers
    over his career. During the PITCHf/x era, he’s blocked a below-average
    rate of blockable pitches. Advanced metrics give Napoli a negative
    rating, and that’s without considering pitch-framing effectiveness.
    What’s the deal with Mike Napoli’s pitch-framing effectiveness? (In pitch-framing) Mike Fast found Napoli to be pretty strongly negative.

    Given that Napoli failed his physical with Boston–or the physical at least turned up some red flags–and his age, he certainly isn’t to suddenly become more mobile behind the plate. What he can do is swat. The Yankees could use him as a DH (funny, how no one notices they really have a hole there), but his price and contract length would have to plummet for that to happen.

  • Paul Morrissey

    It’s always so amusing to read a piece written by a naive fan. They wouldn’t sign Martin for$8.5 million a year, but they’ll somehow pony up $13 million for Napoli. Also you say they should strike while the iron is hot and trade Romine. His value has probably never been lower. I don’t see where that iron is so hot.

  • Corethree

    It’s only my personal opinion to say, if we are trying to save $, we don’t need a catcher. If we went after Napoli, we wouldn’t necessarily be ” stickin it to um ”……. [ the sawx ] as the saying goes. Stickin it to the sawx shouldn’t and doesn’t have anything to do with it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/anskytim Timothy Keenan

    Average is down, strikeouts are up, walks are down, can’t hit with men in scoring position. The Yankees already have plenty of those guys in the lineup, they don’t need another one.

  • 0bsessions

    Coming from an outsider’s perspective (Sox fan who spotted this article), this would be a terrible fit. I’ve seen other Sox fans suggest that the “other team” might be the Yankees, but it doesn’t make any logical sense (And we, as a species, are always looking over our shoulders waiting for you guys to sign someone we like).

    Leaving the monetary aspect out entirely (Which shouldn’t be done because, if the Yankees want to get under the threshold for 2014, they can’t afford Napoli for multiple years), the biggest problem is the fact catcher’s the only spot he fits on the Yankees.

    Are you aware of what the holdup is on the deal with the Sox? If not, let me remind you: his hip. The Sox and Napoli had agreed, in principle, to a three year deal. The Sox then backed up a bit after the physical showed potential hip issues (The selfsame hip issues that the Mariners reportedly backed off of him for entirely, hip issues that may well have been what scared the Rangers off of what seemed like a no-brainer qualifying offer for Napoli).

    The Sox have maintained negotiations because they want him at 1B, the least strenuous position on the diamond by a wide margin. If they can whittle him down to two years or get protections against the hip, it’s worth the risk as the likelihood of the hip being an issue is diminished at 1B.

    The Yanks don’t have that luxury. They’re paying Teixeira over $20MM, Youkilis $13MM and A-Rod like $25MM. Between those three, 1B and DH are going to be full when A-Rod comes back (Youk and A-Rod will have to rotate duties between 3B and DH) meaning the Yankees would have no choice but to start Napoli at C. While the hip issue is diminished at 1B, it would likely only be exacerbated at C. Putting him there would be asking for trouble on a team that’s already dealing with too many players coming off of major injuries (Rivera, Jeter, Gardner and A-Rod).

  • http://www.facebook.com/bret.llewellyn Bret Llewellyn

    I suppose somebody has to catch in New York, and Napoli would be a upgrade over the weak hitting Martin. Seriously, Napoli may even outproduce Texiera. I don’t see this happening though as this season NY has no money. The fact that there team is already has a few players who would be DH-ing anywhere outside of NY makes this idea kind of laughable. Much like the Yanks thin chances of making the playoffs.

  • hitdog042

    Ridiculous. What exactly would they be “swooping” in on? Let’s not act like Napoli is some stud player. If the Yankees wanted him, I’m sure the Red Sox would just find someone else. As funny as some of us would try to make it out to be, it would be like Boston swooping in on Youkilis at the last minute. In other words… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz