Mike Napoli was a name I recently saw that the Rays were interested in. I thought, “hey that’s not too bad of an idea.” Not altogether useless behind the plate, as he is a -2 WAR defensively over 5 years, but not great either, throwing out 24% of baserunners over his career. However, he is known as a pretty decent hitter with some pop and ability to get on base. Offensively, he has a career OPS of .831. Over his career he has mashed lefties to a tune of .931 OPS. He averages a homerun every 16.8 AB’s! He also averages 2.2 WAR per season overall.
Napoli has reportedly been traded with Juan Rivera to the Blue Jays for Vernon Wells and cash.
WHAT!!! Where did this come from? Alex Anthopolous is quickly becoming the Silent Assassin as others have begun to call him.
Here is a guy who can play serviceable defense behind the plate and at first base. So the questions I ask are what do the rest of guys play? Is Lind still the full time 1B? Does Arencibia get less playing time now? Do they just get rid of Molina? Is Encarnacion basically screwed? Does Rivera play right or left with Snider playing the other? Does Davis get handed CF or does Patterson get a good crack? Does Gose or Mastroianni ACTUALLY have a shot of making the squad? Probably not.
Rivera isn’t too bad of an outfielder. When he is healthy. The last couple of years he has been pretty good with a combined WAR of 2.5 over that time. Considering that Wells has only been a 3.7 WAR in that time, to me it seems as though this trade is actually a win for the Jays.
I haven’t even accounted for the fact that Wells is under contract for $86M over the next four years. Combine Rivera and Napoli’s total contracts and they will likely save somewhere around $70M. At the time of writing, I haven’t heard how much money the Jays will be sending to the Angels. A few things come to mind from that: Making room to sign Bautista long term, signing Manny now, or making a big splash next year in free agency. Even some combination of these is possible. Personally, I would rather not sign Bautista long term yet. I would like to see another hot start this year before considering it. Even then, if that were to happen, I think trading him at the deadline could net huge compensation. If Manny is close to signing with someone, it must be with the Jays. Is it feasible to think that the Silent Assassin could go after Pujols next offseason? Even the guys at Baseball Canadiana have thought of this idea. I am not sure, but there have been so many questions I have asked, and I don’t know if I can really justify all of them.
Update: No money is being exchanged. Which means Anthopolous is an absolute genius. Best move he has made yet. Wouldn’t be surprised if he had some more up his sleeve leading up to Spring training. Pitchers and catchers report in 25 days.
Update 2: Rommie Lewis has been designated for assignment to make room on 40-man roster.
Update 3: Yes I realize this is a little late, but my idea of signing Manny was shot down because he signed with Tampa for $2M.