CANTON,Ohio- I have talked to people on both sides of this very interesting story line surrounding free agents Mike Napoli and Edwin Encarnacion. And I can understand both sides.
Let’s first talk about Mike Napoli. He had a career year for the Cleveland Indians. Napoli had a career year in the following categories: (Games-150),(Plate appearances-645), (At-bats-557), (Runs scored-92), (Hits-133), (Home runs-34), (RBI’s-101), (Strikeouts-194).
No one, not even myself, was expecting that. But he did have a very impressive season. It all went South starting in September. Napoli began striking out at a high rate and his bat was no longer making contact that resulted in even singles.
While his production at the plate disappeared, his defense didn’t.
Edwin Encarnacion is a great fit for the Cleveland Indians. He can play Third, First and play DH. Encarnacion had career years in the following categories: (Games-160), (Plate appearances-702), (At bats-601), (Runs scored-99), (Hits-158), (RBI’s-127), (Strikeouts-138).
Since I don’t have the opportunity to watch many Blue Jays games, I don’t know how good he is defensively. And I don’t know how he is in the dugout.
Now with that being said. Edwin turned down a 4 year year $80M contract from Toronto. Since then, the market for Encarnacion has shrunk. As of now, the Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, Oakland A’s and Texas are the likely landing spots from the American League. The Colorado Rockies and Marlins are still considering him from the N.L. side.
It wouldn’t shock me if Edwin roles the dice and decides to take a one year deal with either of those teams and tries to have a year like last year or maybe even a slightly better year than last year. Edwin will be 34 before the 2017 season starts. For the record, Mike Napoli is 34 and won’t turn 35 until the end of the 2017 season.
I’m bringing all of this up because here are my thought’s.
Would I love to have a right-handed power bat to put in the middle of the Indians lineup in 2017? Absolutely. Encarnacion has been very consistent with his numbers for the last five years in Toronto.
But I do not know how well he can play defense and here’s something to think about. How will Edwin fit inside the club house with the other Cleveland players? It’s something you have to consider.
Mike Napoli had a drastic drop at the plate. Napoli walked a total of 4 times in the 2016 postseason, struck out 21 times, 9 total hits. Napoli only hit 1 home run and 3 RBI’s.
On the plus side, Mike was still good defensively.
So this is my my conclusion. While I don’t know if the Indians will be able to convince Napoli to sign a 1 year deal, I would like to see Napoli back in Cleveland and here’s why.
Mike Napoli is the club house leader on this team. The players love Napoli. I’m not sure how much of an effect he had on Carlos Santana, but I do think he helped him out, even if it was just a little.
I’ll make this final point. Here’s to hoping that Michael Brantley will be able to come back to his All-Star form in 2017. Even if he can be half as good, that’s a plus. Also, Yan Gomes will be back and I am predicting that Yan will be the Yan Gomes that we all loved watching behind the plate and hitting at the plate. With those two, hopefully returning to form, that would make up the production that we would lose from Napoli.
If we can get Napoli to hit between 15-20 home runs and get us 75-80 RBI’s, all I ask is for him to stay steady defensively at first base.
Again, from a production stand point, I understand why people want Edwin, but I can understand the fight to keep Napoli here. Plus, he loves playing here and he loves the fans. We don’t know what we’re going to get with Encarnacion.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Nick broulis