Cleveland Indians: Mike Napoli Remains the Realistic Option

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Oct 19, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Cleveland Indians designated hitter Mike Napoli (26) hits a RBI double during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays in game five of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 19, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Cleveland Indians designated hitter Mike Napoli (26) hits a RBI double during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays in game five of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /
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While the focus of Cleveland Indians rumors this offseason have centered around Edwin Encarnacion, Mike Napoli is a more realistic option for the team to sign.

It would be a Christmas miracle if the Cleveland Indians were to sign Edwin Encarnacion. He would bring some legitimate power to the lineup and would be under contract for several years, becoming a new addition to the core that is primed to compete for another World Series berth in 2017.

The difference would be that Encarnacion would be making significantly more money than anyone else on the team.

The Indians would need to offer the slugger at or around $20 million per season to come to Cleveland, a price that is ultimately too high for the team. The extra revenue earned during the postseason helps, but it does not necessarily all have to be spent on one player.

This realization means the Indians may be smart to work things out with Mike Napoli. A tweet from Jim Duquette seems to point at that being the likely occurrence.

While the front office would surely love to have Encarnacion, he would come at twice the price of Napoli, if not more.

After earning $16 million in 2015 as a member of the Boston Red Sox, the Indians got Napoli for $7 million in 2016. While he may want something in the middle of those two, his asking price is nowhere near what Encarnacion wants.

There is also the fact Napoli was a popular player on the team last season. While Encarnacion may be a great guy, he did play for the Blue Jays. And no one likes the Blue Jays.

Napoli can come back and continue to be a clubhouse leader. He can do so at a reasonable price too, so the team can have some extra money for other players. Revenue should be up in 2017, but so will payroll.

Continued negotiations with Napoli could even lead Encarnacion to lowering his price, even if just a few million dollars. That is, if other teams flat-out tell him he his overvaluing himself. Signing Napoli remains more likely, although the Encarnacion rumors have been fun.

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He may have struggled in the playoffs, but Mike Napoli is a proven player who will have a chance to redeem himself if the Indians decide to bring him back for a second season.

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