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Mike Napoli Officially A Not-Mariner

The Seattle Mariners met with free-agent catcher/1B/DH Mike Napoli. Napoli, though, has signed with the Boston Red Sox, on a three-year contract.

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Mike Napoli Signs With Not The Mariners

From the beginning, the Seattle Mariners didn't seem like a great fit for Mike Napoli as a free agent. The Mariners are in need of a bat, sure, but ideally they'd find a bat with better defense and some capability of playing the outfield. Still, the rumors had to be taken seriously, because the Mariners formally met with Napoli, and because Napoli was being pursued only by the Mariners, Red Sox, and Rangers. Now we don't have to think about it anymore. Now Napoli has signed with Boston for three years and $39 million.

Napoli supposedly wanted a four-year contract, but he didn't get it. Napoli supposedly wanted to remain a catcher, but he's not going to. It's almost as if players don't always get exactly what they want, and it's almost as if the offseason is a time for the spread of misinformation within baseball rumor circles. Presumably, if the Mariners truly wanted Napoli, they would've had to outbid the Red Sox, so I'm perfectly comfortable with them not exceeding these terms.

I would've had something on this up sooner, incidentally, but I'm currently sitting at the actual winter meetings, and it's way harder to get work done here than it is alone in the quiet bedroom of my quiet apartment. I don't understand how people think with so much background chatter. Maybe they don't. Maybe that's the whole problem with modern sportswriting. Maybe Miguel Cabrera won the American League MVP award over Mike Trout because the voting sportswriters couldn't properly collect their thoughts. "Triple Crown" is all they could think, because that was the first thought to occur.

With John Jaso around, Jesus Montero around, and Mike Zunino nearly around, the Mariners have long looked like they could use a part-time, defensive-minded, right-handed catcher. Someone easy to move out of the way. Napoli didn't fit that description, and Russell Martin didn't fit that description. The Mariners could conceivably do anything* but I expect that they'll get a low-profile catcher and that their high-profile acquisition -- should they make one -- will play somewhere else. A regular catcher is not something they need, and first base is a position without a lot of clarity.

* except sign Mike Napoli or Russell Martin

What are the Mariners going to do this week and beyond? I don't know yet. You don't know yet, and I bet the Mariners don't know yet. Several different paths are possible. The various Napoli paths are no longer among them. Oh no, or, thank goodness. Or, somewhere in between.

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What We Know About Mike Napoli

Let's just come out and acknowledge the way that most of us probably feel: the Mariners will suck, because the Mariners just suck, and it doesn't matter who the Mariners acquire, because whoever the Mariners acquire will just end up sucking. It's completely stupid and completely irrational and yet we can feel justified in our pessimism because holy shit the Mariners have sucked for a while and sometimes it's satisfying to preemptively wallow. One of the players who might suck as a Mariner is free-agent Mike Napoli, to whom the Mariners have been linked. With any reasonably high-profile free agent, there can be a lot of misinformation, so I thought it would be worth going over what we know about the Napoli sweepstakes real quick.

First, the Rangers didn't extend to Napoli a one-year, $13.3 million qualifying offer. That does not mean the Rangers can't attempt to re-sign Napoli; that means the Rangers weren't sure if Napoli could get a similar or better offer from someone else. Now, Ryan Divish:

While the blog says he will meet with the Mariners, Napoli has already in fact met with the Mariners earlier in the week.

Moving on:

As for the Rangers?

Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said on Friday the “lines of communication remain open” with free-agent catcher-first baseman Mike Napoli.
[...]
As is the case with outfielder Josh Hamilton, another of their high-profile free agents, the Rangers are letting Napoli explore the market before having definitive talks with him. The sides are likely to get together during the winter meetings.

I don't know what it means to say the lines of communication remain open -- I guess the Rangers and Napoli aren't yet screening each others' phone calls. The Rangers will presumably get some opportunity to do something before Napoli commits elsewhere. The thing about the winter meetings reads like a guess, but the winter meetings are nearly upon us, so I suppose don't expect Napoli to make a decision this coming week. No need to hurry.

So the above are pretty much all facts. Now for a couple other things:

The second comes from someone who's also a personal friend of Napoli's, and while I don't know what it refers to, it could be the speculation that Napoli insists on four years, or it could be the speculation that Napoli insists on catching. I don't know what else has been leaked. There was one report that the Mariners have already made Napoli an offer, and maybe that's wrong, but if an offer hasn't been made yet, an offer will probably be made sometime soon. You don't meet with a player and then not make any attempt to actually sign him. I think. I don't know, I've never GMed. Maybe the Mariners just wanted to know what kind of music Mike Napoli is into. (Country. There's no way it wouldn't be country.)

Odds are fairly good that the Mariners sign Mike Napoli, if only because so few teams appear to be seriously interested. I am not saying that the Mariners are the favorites, and I have no way of knowing whether the Mariners are the favorites. I can't imagine that they would be, since Napoli would probably like to play for a good team, and he has no reason to believe the Mariners are good now. He's also a Florida guy and it doesn't get further from home, in major-league baseball, than Seattle. If I had to guess, the Mariners would have to healthily out-bid the Red Sox, in terms of money or more probably years. I don't get the vibe that the Rangers are desperately hoping to bring Napoli back, but I'm sure there are terms they'd find agreeable, so the Mariners would have to out-bid those, too. I haven't even considered the possibility that another team or teams get involved.

Nowhere in here is a stated judgment on the wisdom of giving, say, four guaranteed years to Mike Napoli. I don't know if it would take four years, and if it did, I don't know how much those four years would cost. I have been more excited about other free agents in the past. I have also been a lot less excited about other free agents in the past. If nothing else, there is presently a variety of players who might become the next Mariners acquisition that sucks a lot. I can hardly stand to wait.

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