Red Sox trade candidate: Mike Napoli


As the Boston Red Sox enter the 2014-2015 offseason, one thing for certain is they will have to address the logjam they have in the outfield.  Currently, the Red Sox have Yoenis Cespedes, Shane Victorino, Jackie Bradley Jr, Rusney Castillo, Daniel Nava, Mookie Betts, and Allen Craig, all of whom occupy the outfield.  When it comes to addressing this situation, it is no secret the Red Sox will be very active within the trade market.  The question is, who gets moved?  What about moving first baseman Mike Napoli?  Moving Napoli would not only net the Red Sox a decent return but  also lessen the outfield log jam by one person, as they could slide Craig into the first base position.

Since signing with the Red Sox as a free agent on December 3, 2012, Napoli has been a fixture at the first base position, providing solid middle of the order power, driving in runs, providing very solid defense, and he has been an excellent influence in the Red Sox clubhouse.  While Napoli had a down 2014 (.248/17/55/.370) compared to 2013 (.259/23/92/.360), he suffered a dislocated ring finger on his left hand in mid-April in a game against the Chicago White Sox. In addition to the dislocated ring finger, he was hampered with nagging toe and back injuries throughout the season, as well as suffering from sleep apnea.   All of these factors indicate Napoli’s down year was likely due to injuries and he is not declining.

If the Red Sox decide to place Napoli on the block and look to move him, he could be a very attractive name for numerous teams in what is a very weak free agent market for  hitters.  Napoli has only one year remaining on his contract at $16 million.  The $16 million price tag could be a little pricey for some teams, however, given it’s for only one year, teams could be more open to taking on his salary, and of course the Red Sox could also throw in some cash assistance.  Napoli could be moved for pieces which could address needs for 2015 and beyond, including starting or relief pitching, or perhaps even third base, a position the Red Sox are expected to upgrade this offseason.

If a Napoli deal were to be completed, the Red Sox would then be able to slide Allen Craig to first and that leaves the fate of the three outfield slots to be determined by Castillo, Cespesdes, Victorino, Betts, Bradley and Nava.  At this time you would expect that Castillo, Cespesdes and Victorino would be the locks, however, the team is still facing a jam.  Moving Napoli would at least reduce the logjam somewhat and at the same time bring back valuable pieces which could help the Red Sox next year and beyond.