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Mike Napoli: The Next Boston Catcher?

Napoli Hitting With Power (Foxsports.com)

Last week, the Red Sox put in a waiver claim for Angels’ catcher Mike Napoli. It was unlikely a deal would be reached, even with the Angels struggling, and Napoli remained a Halo. However, with the Angels passing him through waivers in the first place, and a team in need of catching (the Sox) publicly claiming him, the Napoli trade market this winter could be pretty active.

Who

Unlike the Angels other catcher, Jeff Mathis, Mike Napoli hits for power.  He’s reached the 20 home run mark in each of the last three seasons and currently sits at 21 this year. There’s a lot to like from his bat that easily made the switch to first base this season when Kendry Morales’ injury took him out of the lineup. Napoli’s weakness, in addition to not being an elite defensive player, is his tendency to go down by way of the K. The catcher strikes out at least twice as often as he walks and this year is on pace for a three-to-one K:BB. The result of this is a lowly .320 OBP, although his career mark stands at .348 so there is a likelihood he will be a bit more patient in the future.

Why

The addition of Napoli would give the Red Sox a number of options. With Jarrod Saltalamacchia already under team control, the club needs at least one more major league caliber catcher. They also will likely be in need of a third baseman with Adrian Beltre coming off a career year and Theo unlikely to offer the four or five years Beltre and agent Scott Boras may demand. Assuming the Red Sox feel comfortable with Kevin Youkilis at third base, a scenario where Victor Martinez and Mike Napoli join Salty to make a trio of catchers who also fill in at first base could be beneficial to all parties. Napoli and Martinez would be in the lineup nearly every day giving the Sox two big bats that they can keep fresh and Salty would be the official backup catcher.

Essentially, Martinez or Napoli would become a first base and catching platoon. Of course, with a number of toosly outfielders who could be available for trade, Theo could simply acquire Napoli and let Martinez leave as a free agent. How the team deals with Martinez, Beltre and David will have a big impact on the face of the team, but a scenario with three catchers, two of which provide 20 home run power and the third a former top prospect could lead to an exciting hot stove season.

About Mike Carlucci

Mike Carlucci writes about the Red Sox for Sports of Boston and can be found blogging about baseball and technology. He has a J.D and enjoys palindromes and espresso. You can follow him on Twitter @mikecarlucci or on Google+.

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