Cleveland Indians fans knew Mike Napoli would not be returning another season with the club, and it appears that he has found a home for the 2017 season.
The deal left Napoli without a team, but it wasn’t expected that he would unable to find a team in 2017. That became true Tuesday when news broke of Napoli returning to a familiar home for the upcoming season.
It is not official as of right now, but it does appear that Napoli is heading back to Texas for a third stint with the Rangers. He played there from 2011-2012, and followed that up by playing part of the 2015 season with the Rangers before heading to Cleveland in 2016.
Napoli was a fan favorite for Tribe fans in 2016, but his performance in the postseason all but doomed a return once it became clear that Encarnacion was a realistic option for the club.
Keeping Napoli would not make the Indians worse in 2017, but it was hard to pass up the upgrade.
After a career year in 2016, Napoli’s third stint with the Rangers may end up being his best. He hit 34 home runs last season and drove in 101 runs, which were both career highs.
The Rangers now join the Indians and the Red Sox as the preseason favorites to compete for the AL crown, and all share the similarity of being the last three places Napoli has played. Perhaps his presence is a sign of good things to come.
The Indians open up the season on the road against the Rangers, so Indians fans will get to see Napoli in action right away. For those wishing to see him in his return to Cleveland, the Rangers head to town at the end of June.