After missing the past month with a strained left quad muscle, Mike Napoli is on track to be activated from the disabled list Saturday.
Napoli is 1-for-6 with a homer in two rehab games this week with Double-A Frisco. Perhaps more importantly, he has caught 15 innings without incident. He is scheduled to get one final tuneup tomorrow as the the designated hitter before being activated. While he isn’t quite 100 percent, he told T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com that he is satisfied with his progress.
“I feel good enough,” Napoli said. “I’ll go get some at-bats tomorrow and be ready to go. I don’t think I’m running at full speed, but I’m able to run around the bases at a decent pace and I feel good catching. I tried to do everything I could to test it and it felt good. The big thing was being behind the plate. Everything is good.”
Napoli, 30, is batting .223/.343/.429 with 17 home runs, 40 RBI and a .771 OPS in 92 games played this season. He’s due to become a free agent this offseason, so he should be plenty motivated to finish strong.
Geovany Soto has struggled as the regular catcher during Napoli’s absence, batting just .216/.277/.343 with three home runs, 17 RBI and a .620 OPS in 33 games since coming over from the Cubs in late July. Even though Napoli has been a disappointment this year, he should be a major upgrade if healthy.
Free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo is headed back to the Brewers on a major league deal, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports. No other terms have been reported yet, as the agreement is still pending a physical.
Gallardo, 31, completed a one-year run with the Mariners before getting his $13 million option declined by the team last month. He provided little value during his time in Seattle, pitching to a 5-10 record in 22 starts and putting up a 5.72 ERA, 4.1 BB/9 and 6.5 SO/9 in 130 2/3 innings as both a starter and reliever.
Still, assuming the veteran righty is on the cusp of a comeback, he may as well try for it with his original club. Gallardo last appeared for the Brewers from 2007 to 2014, racking up a cumulative 20.8 fWAR and peaking during the 2010 season, when he earned his first All-Star nomination and Silver Slugger award. This will be his ninth career season with the club.
Even with Gallardo aboard, the Brewers are expected to continue deepening their pitching stores for 2018. With team ace Jimmy Nelson still recovering from shoulder surgery, the club will enter the season with a projected rotation of Gallardo, Zach Davies, Chase Anderson and Junior Guerra, the latter of whom pitched just 70 1/3 innings in 2017 following a right calf strain and shin contusion. Another big name pitcher could help cement Milwaukee’s rotation and keep them competitive for another year, though they don’t appear to have made any concrete moves in that direction so far.