Our look at the Top 25 Cleveland Indians in 2016 has reached the Top 10, and is led off by a current free agent who gave the Indians some power last season.
Postseason struggles aside, Mike Napoli was a major reason why the Cleveland Indians saw so much success in 2016. He came to Cleveland looking to revitalize an already successful career, and he did just that.
Napoli slugged 34 home runs in 2016, driving in 101 runs and finishing fifth on the team in hits with 134. His durability was proven by his 150 games played in the regular season, along with appearances in all 15 postseason games.
Napoli’s four World Series hits, which did not include a single home run, were a major disappointment, but it does not take away from his season as a whole.
He, along with a resurgent Carlos Santana, gave the Indians some power at the plate that the team has been in need of for years. He took a chance by coming to Cleveland on a smaller contract, and it paid off immensely for both sides.
His breakout season is leading to a higher asking price in 2017, but the Indians would be smart to give it to him. The other option is shelling out $20 million per year for Edwin Encarnacion, which is just out of this team’s budget. That is, unless the stadium sells out 81 times next season.
While the Indians may want a one-year deal, a two-year deal can be offered and if it is a bad fit in 2018, he can be offered up in trades.
The Indians are slated to contend for several years, and Napoli’s power is a major part of ensuring the team continues to compete for not only a division title, but a World Series title. His 34 home runs last season were a career high, but it did not seem like a fluke. His games played were also a new high, so it is clear he can be a threat all season long if he can stay healthy. It also helps when he can DH some of the time, allowing Santana to play at first base every so often.
While the Hot Stove was roaring a week ago, the rumors surrounding both Napoli and Encarnacion have died down. The Indians are still likely interested in both, but it seems like re-signing Nap is the most realistic option, and one fans can be happy about. After a great 2016 season filled with personal bests, Napoli will be welcomed back by fans as the Indians look to get revenge and win a World Series title in 2017.