Boston Red Sox trade Mike Napoli to Texas Rangers


Mike Napoli is heading back to Texas.

The Boston Red Sox have agreed to send their first baseman back to the Texas Rangers, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford. Napoli spent two seasons with the Rangers before signing a free agent deal to come to Boston in 2013, where he became a key contributor to the Red Sox World Series winning team.

There has been no confirmation yet what Boston will receive in return or how much of the remainder of Napoli’s prorated $16 million salary they will be responsible for paying. The Red Sox have only announced that they will be sending cash considerations to Texas along with Napoli in return for a player to be named later.

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The 33-year old has struggled this season, hitting only .207/.307/.386 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI, but has been coming on strong lately. Napoli has posted an .895 OPS since the All-Star break, which helped build his trade value.

Napoli’s best season came in 2011 with the Rangers, when he set career-highs with a .320 average, 30 home runs and 5.3 WAR. Perhaps returning to a familiar setting and the motivation of a pennant race will help him keep the momentum he has built over the past few weeks.

Texas entered the day Friday sitting 5.5 games back of the Houston Astros in the AL West, but the surging Rangers have won 4 straight to pull within 2.5 games of a Wild Card spot. Their trade deadline deal to acquire Cole Hamels from the Philadelphia Phillies signifies their intention to make a playoff push, which Napoli will now be a part of.

The Rangers already have Mitch Moreland covering first base, with designated hitter Prince Fielder capable of backing him up, but Napoli can serve as a right-handed compliment off the bench for the two lefties. It’s unclear how much playing time he’ll see or if he’ll platoon with Moreland to face left-handed pitching, but the decline in playing time is offset by the chance to play in the postseason again.

Texas was among a list of teams Napoli could have blocked a trade to, but he has reportedly waived that clause to facilitate the trade.

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With the non-waiver trade deadline passing on July 31, Napoli had to first clear waivers before being eligible to be traded. He was one of several players that the Red Sox placed on waivers this week, so once he went unclaimed the team moved quickly to find a new home for the veteran first baseman.

Napoli is in the final year of his contract and was not expected to be re-signed once he reached free agency following this season. The incentive for Boston to move him was to free a roster spot that will allow them to evaluate younger players that may have a role with this team beyond this season.

Napoli was a late scratch from Friday night’s game in Detroit, which aroused suspicion that something was up. Napoli may be gone, but he will always be remembered in Boston for his contributions to that championship season in 2013, especially the damage he did against this Tigers pitching staff in the ALCS.

The Red Sox and Tigers are both unlikely to still be playing baseball this October, but Napoli still might be.